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J Thyroid Res. 2011;2011:493462. doi: 10.4061/2011/493462. Epub 2011 Sep 15.

Myxedema coma: a new look into an old crisis.

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1
Institute of Post-Graduate Medical Education & Research, Calcutta 700020, India.

Abstract

Myxedema crisis is a severe life threatening form of decompensated hypothyroidism which is associated with a high mortality rate. Infections and discontinuation of thyroid supplements are the major precipitating factors while hypothermia may not play a major role in tropical countries. Low intracellular T3 leads to cardiogenic shock, respiratory depression, hypothermia and coma. Patients are identified on the basis of a low index of suspicion with a careful history and examination focused on features of hypothyroidism and precipitating factors. Arrythmias and coagulation disorders are increasingly being identified in myxedema crisis. Thyroid replacement should be initiated as early as possible with careful attention to hypotension, fluid replacement and steroid replacement in an intensive care facility. Studies have shown that replacement of thyroid hormone through ryles tube with a loading dose and maintenance therapy is as efficacious as intravenous therapy. In many countries T3 is not available and oral therapy with T4 can be used effectively without major significant difference in outcomes. Hypotension, bradycardia at presentation, need for mechanical ventilation, hypothermia unresponsive to treatment, sepsis, intake of sedative drugs, lower GCS and high APACHE II scores and Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) scores more than 6 are significant predictors of mortality in myxedema crisis. Early intervention in hypothyroid patients developing sepsis and other precipitating factors and ensuring continued intake of thyroid supplements may prevent mortality and morbidity associated with myxedema crisis.

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