WHAT ARE REYE-LIKE SYNDROMES?
"Reye's Syndrome" is the name given to what is now believed to be not one, but a number of childhood illnesses. These illnesses all produce similar symptoms, signs and results of laboratory tests, but they all have different causes. It is thought that so-called "classic" or "North-American - type" Reye's syndrome is an individual disorder in its own right. Its precise cause is not known but there is probably some inherent susceptibility which is precipitated in some circumstances when aspirin is given for a viral infection such as influenza. Unfortunately there is no single laboratory test for "classic" Reye's syndrome.
Patients are (or should only be) given this diagnosis when all the other causes, the so called "Reye-like syndromes" have been excluded. The most important "other cause" is one of the identified 26 inherited disorders of body chemistry also called inherited metabolic disorders (IMD's) or inborn errors of metabolism (IEM's) which can very readily be confused with classic Reye's syndrome. These 26 Reye-like illnesses are listed in the "Metabolic Disorder" section may meet the diagnostic criteria but should nowadays be specifically sought for and excluded, before true Reye-syndrome is accepted as the final diagnosis.
In the UK this careful approach has meant that an initial diagnosis of Reye's syndrome has later been revised to an IMD. IM Disorders which may mimic Reye's syndrome include defects in fatty acid oxidation (lipid metabolism), amino acid metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism and disorders of ammonia detoxification (other defects).
Next review January 2020