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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Sudden unexpected death in the setting of undiagnosed Graves' disease

Matthew J Lynch, Noel W F Woodford
Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology 2014, 10 (3): 452-6
24880878
Graves' disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism and is classically characterized by the clinical triad of diffuse toxic goiter, infiltrative ophthalmopathy with exophthalmos and an infiltrative dermopathy. While the name of the Irishman Robert Graves has received the eponymous honor, the first description of the condition in the English language can be attributed to the Englishman Caleb Perry, while in continental Europe the entity in name once honored Karl von Basedow. We present the case of a previously well 43 year old woman who presented in supraventricular tachycardia and acute pulmonary edema and died despite treatment and without a diagnosis for cause of death. At autopsy the significant positive macroscopic findings were confined to the lungs (acute pulmonary edema) and thyroid (diffusely enlarged). Histology revealed features typical of Graves' disease while post mortem thyroid function tests supported a diagnosis of thyrotoxic crisis in the setting of undiagnosed Graves' disease.

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