Medical complications in adolescents with anorexia nervosa: a review of the literature

Int J Eat Disord. 2005:37 Suppl:S52-9; discussion S87-9. doi: 10.1002/eat.20118.


The purpose of the current article is to summarize the evidence-based medical complications and treatments that are both common and unique to adolescents with anorexia nervosa (AN). Recent literature relating to the cardiovascular complications, refeeding syndrome, alterations in linear growth, impaired bone mineral accretion, and structural and functional brain changes was reviewed. The literature suggests that the medical complications in adolescents with AN are different from those reported in adults. The unique clinical presentation, the early onset, and the unknown impact of these complications underscore the need for early identification and treatment of AN in adolescents. AN is a serious disorder with significant and often life-threatening medical complications. The increasing growth of evidence highlights the importance of early identification and treatment by an interdisciplinary team of health care providers who have expertise in managing adolescents with AN and their medical sequelae.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / physiopathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Growth Disorders / etiology*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Hypophosphatemia / etiology*
  • Osteoporosis / etiology*