[Myxedema coma as a rare differential diagnosis of severe consciousness disturbance]

Nervenarzt. 2002 Dec;73(12):1183-5. doi: 10.1007/s00115-002-1393-1.
[Article in German]


Myxedema coma is a rare and life-threatening complication of untreated hypothyroidism. Therefore, it must be part of the differential diagnosis in comatose patients. We report one patient who presented with CO(2) narcosis,hypothermia, bradycardia,hyporeflexia, tetraparesis, ascitis, pleural effusions, and heart insufficiency. Examination of the CSF, cranial CT, MRI, and MR angiography were normal. In suspicion of myxedema coma,the patient was treated with high dose L-thyroxine and hydrocortisone for preventing secondary adrenal insufficiency. A fast clinical recovery, decreased T4 (7.2 ng/l) and T3 (0.93 ng/l), and increased TSH (20.19 mU/l) together with the following anamnesis of radio iodine therapy and insufficient thyroxine intake confirmed the diagnosis. In conclusion, treatment of the myxedema coma must be started as soon as the laboratory results are confirmatory, since its course depends on the time of initiation of treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Insufficiency / diagnosis
  • Adrenal Insufficiency / drug therapy
  • Aged
  • Coma / etiology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Myxedema / diagnosis*
  • Myxedema / drug therapy
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Thyroxine / administration & dosage


  • Thyroxine
  • Hydrocortisone