The girl who couldn't stop laughing

June 17, 2014

A six-year-old Bolivian girl presented with an unusual medical symptom: uncontrollable and inappropriate fits of laughter.

"She was considered spoiled, crazy, even devil-possessed," says Dr José Liders Burgos Zuleta. Doctors diagnosed the child with "misbehaviour."

In a new research paper published in ecancermedicalscience, Dr Liders Burgos successfully diagnosed the true cause of the little girl's gelastic, or laughing, seizures. Unable to perform a biopsy, his team turned to imaging to examine the girl's brain. They discovered a hamartoma – a small tumour pressing on the of her brain.

Dr Liders Burgos hopes that this will assist other Latin American doctors in diagnosing the true cause of in children. "This case is interesting because these Latin American children will be referred to a neurologist," he says.

After surgery, the young girl is now healthy and developing normally. She has not suffered further seizures - and now only laughs for normal reasons.

Explore further: Removal of hypothalamic hamartoma curbs compulsive eating and excessive weight gain

More information: Read the case report for free here: ecancer.org/journal/8/436.php 

Burgos Zuleta José Liders, Carillo Mezo Roger, Perusquia Ortega Eduardo, Luna Barrón Beatriz, Conde Espinosa Rubén, Marín Muentes Diana P, Sánchez Cortázar Julián, Gómez Pérez María de Guadalupe, Burgos Zuleta José Alvaro and Burgos Zuleta José Andres (2014) "Child with temporal lobe hamartoma: A to Z images and a case report." ecancer 8: 436

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