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November 24, 1978

Phantom Itching Relieved by Scratching Phantom Feet

Author Affiliations

University of Minnesota Hospitals Minneapolis

JAMA. 1978;240(22):2432. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290220044008

To the Editor.—  "Phantoms" are indeed a puzzling and poorly understood phenomenon. In amputees the phantom limb occupies a definite position in space, is capable of movement, and has, in a great majority, a pleasant "tingling" feeling.1 In paraplegics, proprioceptive and nociceptive sensations and awareness of the extremities are recognized.2 Phantom experiences are also described after eye enucleation ("phantom vision"),3 after visceral surgery,4 and after brachial plexus, epidural, or subarachnoid anesthesia.5I had the opportunity recently of taking care of a patient with a curious phantom experience. A 69-year-old man was admitted to the hospital because of tarry stools. He gave a history of "syncopal attacks" for which he was receiving warfarin sodium (Coumadin) at a dose of 12.5 mg/day. His gastrointestinal series showed a large duodenal diverticulum, and his prothrombin time was 120 seconds. His anamnesis disclosed that he had a diagnosis of Buerger's