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Case Reports in Critical Care
Volume 2016, Article ID 8531591, 6 pages
Case Report

Fatal Nonhepatic Hyperammonemia in ICU Setting: A Rare but Serious Complication following Bariatric Surgery

1Department of Internal Medicine, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY 11237, USA
2Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY 11237, USA
3Department of Medical Education, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY 11237, USA

Received 3 January 2016; Accepted 15 March 2016

Academic Editor: Gerhard Pichler

Copyright © 2016 Gyanendra Acharya et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Bariatric surgery is well established in reducing weight and improving the obesity-associated morbidity and mortality. Hyperammonemic encephalopathy following bariatric surgery is rare but highly fatal if not diagnosed in time and managed aggressively. Both macro- and micronutrients deficiencies play a role. A 42-year-old Hispanic female with a history of Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Procedure was brought to ED for progressive altered mental status. Physical exam was remarkable for drowsiness with Glasgow Coma Scale 11, ascites, and bilateral pedal edema. Labs showed elevated ammonia, low hemoglobin, low serum prealbumin, albumin, HDL, and positive toxicology. She remained obtunded despite the treatment with Narcan and flumazenil and the serum ammonia level fluctuated despite standard treatment with lactulose and rifaximin. Laboratory investigations helped to elucidate the etiology of the hyperammonemia most likely secondary to unmasking the functional deficiency of the urea cycle enzymes. Hyperammonemia in the context of normal liver function tests becomes diagnostically challenging for physicians. Severe hyperammonemia is highly fatal. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment can alter the prognosis favorably.