A 90-year-old man presented to the emergency department with multiple symptoms including double vision, reduced mobility, dysphagia, recent rapid weight loss, ear discharge and deafness. He had diabetes and other chronic medical problems, including otitis media with mastoiditis. This case highlights the difficulty of investigating weight loss in older people, who may not show the usual clinical features of infection, and of distinguishing between infection and malignancy when radiological findings are inconclusive. His eventual diagnosis was osteomyelitis of the skull base with cranial nerve involvement.
A 90-year-old, previously fit Estonian man was admitted to hospital from the emergency department (ED) with multiple symptoms including acute diplopia, difficulty with walking, several falls over 2 weeks, decreased taste sensation, dysphagia with solids over several months, a 10 kg weight loss over 5 months, and a 6-week history of otalgia, aural fullness, otorrhea, and deafness. Four months earlier, the patient had presented to the ED with acute onset of left facial nerve palsy, dysphonia and dysphagia. The facial nerve palsy had resolved spontaneously after 2 weeks without specific treatment.
Publication of your online response is subject to the Medical Journal of Australia's editorial discretion. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted.