An Under-Diagnosed Cause of Leg Swelling

An Under-Diagnosed Cause of Leg Swelling

Goodliffe JM, Ormerod JO, Beale A, Ramcharitar S; 2013

Synopsis: This article describes the case of a woman with lipoedema misdiagnosed with lymphoedema for many years. The article highlights the importance of early recognition to facilitate specialist care and provide appropriate treament for lipedema.

Abstract: A grossly obese woman was wrongly diagnosed throughout her adult life of having lymphoedema. Her condition was subsequently confirmed as lipoedema, an entirely different condition, which is noted in medical text books but is seldom taught to medical students or to general practitioners. The condition is caused by abnormal deposition of adipose tissue in the extremities (usually the lower limbs) and almost exclusively affects women. It often starts at puberty or may occur after pregnancy. The exact aetiology is not yet understood but genetic and hormonal factors may be implicated. The problem is that misdiagnosis leads to inappropriate tests and improper treatment to the patient. When recognised it is often too late to do anything for the patient and they become highly dependent on social care. This case describes how the diagnosis can be confirmed through an ultrasound image and illustrates the need for early recognition to facilitate specialist care.

APA Citation: Goodliffe, J., Ormerod, J., Beale, A., & Ramcharitar, S. (2013). An under-diagnosed cause of leg swelling. Case Reports, 2013(may24 1), bcr2013009538-bcr2013009538. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2013-009538

AMA Citation: Goodliffe J, Ormerod J, Beale A, Ramcharitar S. An under-diagnosed cause of leg swelling. Case Reports. 2013;2013(may24 1):bcr2013009538-bcr2013009538. doi:10.1136/bcr-2013-009538.