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August 1962

Ascites and Intestinal Obstruction in Myxedema

Author Affiliations

Associate Professor of Surgery, Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University (Dr. Haley); Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Illinois College of Medicine (Dr. Bronsky); Associate Professor of Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School (Dr. Waldstein).

Arch Surg. 1962;85(2):328-333. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1962.01310020158028

Although abdominal symptoms, such as anorexia, constipation, and fecal impaction, are frequent in myxedema, overt abnormal abdominal findings are unusual.1 One such manifestation is ascites. Because myxedema is an insidious disease which may not be recognized, it is possible for ascites to occur, to be ascribed mistakenly to other etiologies, and for unnecessary surgical procedures to be undertaken for diagnostic purposes. An-other unusual manifestation of myxedema is intestinal obstruction. If the underlying myxedema is not recognized and treated, decompressive procedures will not be definitive and recurrence is likely.

It is the purpose of the present report to describe 2 patients who developed these complications of myxedema, to discuss the diagnostic problems, and to review the literature regarding the incidence and pathogenesis of the abdominal manifestations of myxedema.

Report of Cases 

Patient 1.  —A 59-year-old white woman was admitted to Cook County Hospital on Dec. 14, 1958, complaining of abdominal