SAEM Clinical Image Series: Facial Edema

facial edema

A 44-year-old female presents to the emergency department after noticing swelling of her tongue and face, specifically the cheeks and periorbital area. She states the swelling began two weeks ago and has progressively worsened. She also complains of redness.

Vitals: T 38.6°C; BP 135/78; HR 90; RR 18

General: Lying in bed, somewhat anxious appearing

HEENT:

  • Significant edema of bilateral cheeks and periorbital areas
  • Thinning of hair along scalp and lateral aspect of eyebrows
  • Mild macroglossia

Skin:

  • Yellow tinge to patient’s skin
  • Horizontal scar noted on the anterior aspect of the neck

TSH: 31.27 mU/L

Free T4: 0.20 pmol/L

Myxedema facies

This patient has a history of thyroidectomy, as indicated by her neck scar, and a history of noncompliance with levothyroxine.

Myxedema is a term used to describe the appearance of nonpitting edema in patients with severe hypothyroidism. While the exact mechanism is not completely understood, this edema is thought to be secondary to increased deposition of dermal hyaluronic acid, a glycosaminoglycan that can grow up to 1000x its normal size when hydrated. Carotenemia is another possible manifestation of hypothyroidism and is secondary to impaired conversion of carotenoids to retinol in the setting of low levels of thyroid hormone. Additionally, patients may exhibit patchy alopecia, fatigue, cold intolerance, goiter, coarsening of the skin, and macroglossia.

Take-Home Points

  • The presentation of hypothyroidism is widely variable and may be subtle or atypical. Classically, hypothyroidism presents with pretibial myxedema, hyporeflexia, and cold intolerance. In some cases, facial edema may be the predominant feature, as seen in this patient.
  • Brittle, thinning hair on the scalp and eyebrows is a common feature. Thinning of the hair along the lateral eyebrows is called madarosis, also known as “Queen Anne’s Sign.”
  • In a patient with Grave’s disease, maintain a high index of suspicion for hypothyroidism, either as part of the natural history of the disease or as a sequela of treatment.
  1. Safer JD. Thyroid hormone action on skin. Dermatoendocrinol. 2011 Jul;3(3):211-5. doi: 10.4161/derm.3.3.17027. Epub 2011 Jul 1. PMID: 22110782; PMCID: PMC3219173.
  2. Wiersinga WM. Adult Hypothyroidism. 2014 Mar 28. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, Chrousos G, de Herder WW, Dhatariya K, Dungan K, Grossman A, Hershman JM, Hofland J, Kalra S, Kaltsas G, Koch C, Kopp P, Korbonits M, Kovacs CS, Kuohung W, Laferrère B, McGee EA, McLachlan R, Morley JE, New M, Purnell J, Sahay R, Singer F, Stratakis CA, Trence DL, Wilson DP, editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000–. PMID: 25905416.

 

 

SAEM Clinical Image Series: What’s This Thing on My Face?

A 91-year-old female patient presented with her family after concern for multiple new lesions on her face and hands. The patient thinks the lesions grew over the course of a few months. There is no pain at the sites, no erythema, and no pruritis. She has caught the lesions on clothing and bedding, which has irritated the lesions on occasion, and the family is concerned/embarrassed by the growths on her face, which are harder to conceal than those on her hand.

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By |2021-02-21T07:51:46-08:00Feb 22, 2021|Academic, Dermatology, SAEM Clinical Images|

SAEM Clinical Image Series: Guess Who’s Back?

rash

A 27-year-old male with no significant past medical history presented to the emergency department with one week of progressively worsening, non-pruritic, and intermittently painful rash to his bilateral dorsal and plantar feet. The patient also described lesions to his left inguinal region and scrotal sac. There was no fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, or shortness of breath. The patient was sexually active with men and women, with inconsistent condom use.

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SAEM Clinical Image Series: Finger Pain

finger

The patient is a 24-year-old female who presents to the emergency department for left middle finger pain and swelling. She is right hand dominant and works in a kitchen. The patient states that ten days ago she avulsed the distal tip of the left middle finger, including the majority of the nail. At that time, the patient was evaluated at an outside hospital where the wound was cauterized with silver nitrate due to soft tissue bleeding. Since then, the patient states that she has had swelling over the dorsal distal phalanx.

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SAEM Clinical Image Series: Edema Got Your Tongue?

angioedema

A 57-year-old male presented to the emergency department with a swollen mouth for three hours. He reported never having experienced this before and denied starting any new medications. The patient endorsed a feeling that his mouth was swollen and had difficulty swallowing. The edema had been increasing in size since its onset. He had been drooling for the past hour and endorsed mild pain around the area. He denied any shortness of breath, rash, nausea, vomiting, or other areas of edema. His past medical history included hypertension, diabetes, and allergies, with no known drug allergies. His family history was unknown. His medications included Metformin and Lisinopril.

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SAEM Clinical Image Series: Sun-burnt Hands and Lips

blistering

A 44-year-old Caucasian male with a past medical history of hepatitis C presents with a complaint of pain, swelling, and skin blistering of his hands. He also notes skin sores on his nose, lower lip, and the tops of his ears. The patient claims that these have become progressively worse since starting work a month ago in outdoor construction. The patient denies the use of medications or illicit drugs and denies any medical allergies. He admits to tobacco use and daily alcohol use. The patient denies any other symptoms.

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SAEM Clinical Image Series: The Insidious Rash

rash

A 60-year-old African American female with a history of hypertension presents to the emergency department for an itchy, diffuse rash. She first noticed the lesions a few years prior, and they have progressively become larger and more inflamed. The lesions have become severely pruritic over the last couple of months. Steroid creams did not appear to improve symptoms. Currently, the lesions on her arm have become painful with yellow drainage. The patient denies nausea, vomiting, and fever.

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