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October 1965

Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Pathology, State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center and the Institute of Pathology, Kings County Hospital Medical Center.

Arch Intern Med. 1965;116(4):515-517. doi:10.1001/archinte.1965.03870040029007

TOXIC epidermal necrolysis is a rare cutaneous disorder of distinctive gross and histologic appearance. Its causes remain obscure. Since its definitive description in 1956 by Lyell,1 relatively few cases have been reported in the United States.2,5 Previously, it had been placed without any distinction in the group of bullous dermatoses. As with other uncommon entities, its apparent rarity may merely represent unfamiliarity with its morphologic features on the part of clinicians and pathologists.

The following case demonstrates the need for awareness of the disorder, for it can lead to rapid death, especially if the disease is not recognized and intensive therapy is not started.

Report of a Case  A 73-year-old white man was admitted to the hospital because of rectal bleeding of one day's duration. He had lost an unknown, but presumably large, amount of weight during the preceding six months, but had been fairly well until anorexia

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