Epigastric pain as presentation of an addisonian crisis in a patient with Schmidt syndrome

Christophe Lelubre, Philippe E R Lheureux
American Journal of Emergency Medicine 2008, 26 (2): 251.e3-4
A 39-year-old woman presented with a 10-day history of epigastric pain accompanied by persistent fatigue and loss of appetite for 3 months. She had presented several weeks earlier with adhesive capsulitis, treated by local infiltration of corticosteroids. She was not taking any other medications. Results of heart, lung, and abdominal examinations were unremarkable, except for mild epigastric tenderness. Purple stretch marks were observed on examination of the skin. The only blood chemistry abnormalities were hyponatremia (125 mEq/L) and hyperkalemia (6.8 mEq/L). Based on the clinical and biologic picture, adrenal insufficiency was suspected. The patient was transferred to the intensive care unit and received hydrocortisone intravenously for 3 days. She was then given oral hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone. Biologic abnormalities reversed entirely; the final diagnosis was primary autoimmune adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease) associated with autoimmune hypothyroidism (Schmidt syndrome). Adrenal insufficiency should be considered in patients with abdominal pain, especially when associated with electrolyte abnormalities.

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