Differentiating Diabetes insipidus from other diseases

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Omodamola Aje B.Sc, M.D. [2]


The most important differential diagnosis for diabetes insipidus include: Central diabetes insipidus, acquired, Trauma (surgery, deceleration injury), Vascular (cerebral hemorrhage, infarction, anterior communicating artery aneurysm or ligation, intra-hypothalamic hemorrhage), Neoplastic (craniopharyngioma, meningioma, germinoma, pituitary tumor or metastases), Granulomatous (histiocytosis, sarcoidosis), Infectious (meningitis, encephalitis), Inflammatory/autoimmune (lymphocytic infundibuloneurohypophysitis), Drug/toxin-induced (ethanol, diphenylhydantoin, snake venom), hydrocephalus, Idiopathic, congenital, Congenital malformations, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus: Acquired, drug-induced (demeclocycline, lithium, cisplatin, methoxyflurane, etc.), Hypercalcemia, hypokalemia, infiltrating lesions (sarcoidosis, amyloidosis, multiple myeloma, Sjogren's disease), Vascular (sickle cell disease), congenital, X-linked recessive, primary polydipsia,Psychogenic, dipsogenic (downward resetting of thirst threshold), gestational diabetes insipidus, Diabetes mellitus.

Differentiating diabetes insipidus based on the type of diabetes insipidus caused

The most important differential diagnosis for diabetes insipidus include:[1][2][3]

Type of DI Subclass Disease Defining signs and symptoms Lab/Imaging findings
Central Acquired Histiocytosis
  • CD1a and CD45 +
  • Interleukin-17 (ILITA)
Skull x-ray of a patient with Langerhan's histiocytosis showing lytic lesions - Case courtesy of Dr Hani Salam, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 9459
Brain MRI showing suprasellar mass consistent with the diagnosis of craniopharyngioma - Case courtesy of A.Prof Frank Gaillard, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 16812
Contrast-enhanced patches in a patient previously diagnosed with lung sarcoidosis - Case courtesy of A.Prof Frank Gaillard, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 10930
Congenital Hydrocephalus Dilated ventricles on CT and MRI
Obstructive hydrocephalus showing dilated lateral ventricles - Case courtesy of Dr Paul Simkin, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 30453
Wolfram Syndrome (DIDMOAD)
Nephrogenic Acquired Drug-induced (demeclocycline, lithium)
  • Ca levels greater than 11 meq/L
  • K levels less than 3meq/L on CBC
Multiple myeloma
Skeletal survey in a patient with multiple myeloma showing multiple lytic lesions - Case courtesy of A.Prof Frank Gaillard, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 7682
Sickle cell disease
Blood film showing the sickle cells - By Dr Graham Beards - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18421017
Primary polydipsia Psychogenic
Gestational diabetes insipidus
Diabetes mellitus
  • Elevated blood sugar levels >126
  • Elevated HbA1c > 6.5


  1. Willcutts MD, Felner E, White PC (1999). "Autosomal recessive familial neurohypophyseal diabetes insipidus with continued secretion of mutant weakly active vasopressin". Hum Mol Genet. 8 (7): 1303–7. PMID 10369876.
  2. Abu Libdeh A, Levy-Khademi F, Abdulhadi-Atwan M, Bosin E, Korner M, White PC; et al. (2010). "Autosomal recessive familial neurohypophyseal diabetes insipidus: onset in early infancy". Eur J Endocrinol. 162 (2): 221–6. doi:10.1530/EJE-09-0772. PMID 19897608.
  3. Barrett TG, Bundey SE (1997). "Wolfram (DIDMOAD) syndrome". J Med Genet. 34 (10): 838–41. PMC 1051091. PMID 9350817.
  4. Ghosh KN, Bhattacharya A (1992). "Gonotrophic nature of Phlebotomus argentipes (Diptera: Psychodidae) in the laboratory". Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. 34 (2): 181–2. PMID 1340034.

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