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December 10, 1982

Munchausen's Syndrome and Cardiac Catheterization: A Case of a Pernicious Interaction

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine, the Brooklyn Hospital and the Downstate Medical Center, SUNY, Brooklyn, NY.

JAMA. 1982;248(22):3008-3009. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330220052036

MUNCHAUSEN'S syndrome denotes a peculiar psychiatric illness in which the patient wanders from hospital to hospital feigning serious medical illness.1 The manifestations of the illness reflect a complex interaction between the patient's psychological problems and the medical milieu in which they occur. The purpose of this article is to report a virulent form of this disorder in which a patient subjected himself to repeated cardiac catheterizations and angiograms that resulted in the loss of a limb. This case demonstrates the possible tragic consequences of this disorder and the vulnerability of such patients to a medical approach to diagnosis that utilizes, perhaps too readily, invasive procedures.

Report of a Case  A 40-year-old man came to the emergency department of The Brooklyn Hospital, Brooklyn, NY, complaining of severe, crushing, retrosternal pain that radiated down his left arm. He related the following story: Six months before he had gone to Paris, where,