Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS): Experience at a Tertiary Referral Center
Background: Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS) is an autoimmune disorder presenting with obsessive compulsive disorder and/or tics. Like Sydenham’s chorea, its presumed pathogenesis consists of autoantibodies cross-reacting with neurons in response to a group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal infection (GASI). There are currently no diagnostic laboratory findings and management ranges from antibiotic prophylaxis to intravenous immunoglobulin to plasmapheresis. The diagnosis remains controversial, resulting in inconsistent referrals and significant patient anxiety.
Methods: A retrospective study was performed on all patients referred to the Pediatric Infectious Disease Division with a pre-referral diagnosis of PANDAS. Patients were analyzed by demographics, medical history, co-morbidities, symptoms, prior treatment, laboratory tests, management strategies, and treatment outcomes.
Results: From 2003 to 2013, there were 21 patients with a pre-referral diagnosis of PANDAS. Only five met the diagnostic criteria. No patient at referral had an objective scale to monitor symptoms. Eight referrals had a major psychiatric disorder, and none fulfilled diagnostic criteria (p<0.01).
Discussion: The majority of the patients referred with a pre-diagnosis of PANDAS do not fulfill diagnostic criteria nor do they have objective criteria for symptom monitoring. Major psychiatric disorders do not seem to be associated with PANDAS, and better physician education may prevent misdiagnoses. Multidisciplinary management is recommended.