Journal Mobile

MJ MacMahon, DG MacMahon
Journal Issue: 
Volume 42: Issue 2: 2012



This review is based in part on Dr D MacMahon’s lecture at the RCPE Care of the Elderly Symposium held in Edinburgh on 30 March 2012.There have been a number of exciting developments in the management of Parkinson’s disease (PD) in the past decade. However the objective for the vast majority of patients remains the maintenance of quality of life through the achievement of steady levels of dopaminergic stimulation within the target neurones of the basal ganglia. While there is a great deal of guidance available for the PD specialist, it remains a challenge for the generalist to know which patients require specialist input, how urgently that input should be obtained and what steps should be taken while awaiting review. Diagnosis can be difficult in the acute setting. While a high index of suspicion is important, it is not a diagnosis that should be made lightly and all cases should be reviewed by a specialist who will then advise on initial treatment. Management of PD medication during intercurrent illness is a challenge, particularly when the gastrointestinal tract is dysfunctional. Some guidance on dealing with this situation is available and has been summarised in this article. Problems that may present to the general physician include aspiration pneumonia, uncontrolled dyskinesias, psychosis, dopamine agonist withdrawal syndrome and rarely, neuroleptic malignant-like syndrome. These conditions will be reviewed, along with general guidance for managing patients on more sophisticated regimes such as continuous intrajejunal levodopa infusion (Duodopa®) and patients with a deep brain stimulator in situ.