Diabetic muscle infarction of the forearm in a patient with long-standing type 1 diabetes

Endocr Pract. 2006 Mar-Apr;12(2):188-92. doi: 10.4158/EP.12.2.188.


Objective: To describe a case of diabetic muscle infarction affecting an upper extremity in a patient with long-term poorly controlled diabetes.

Methods: A case report of a patient with diabetes who presented with pain and swelling of his left arm is described, including clinical, laboratory, and radiologic findings. The results of pathologic examination are also illustrated. Moreover, we review the literature in a discussion of the evaluation, pathogenesis, and treatment of diabetic muscle infarction.

Results: A 41-year-old man with type 1 diabetes presented with a 1-week history of painful swelling of the left forearm. The leukocyte count and creatine kinase levels were normal. Magnetic resonance imaging of the left forearm revealed extensive deep tissue edema and an increase in T2 signal in the involved muscles. The patient was initially treated for cellulitis with intravenously administered antibiotics for 3 weeks without improvement. Muscle biopsy revealed skeletal muscle with prominent muscle fiber degeneration, myophagocytosis, and fibrosis, consistent with the diagnosis of diabetic muscle infarction. Once this diagnosis was made, antibiotic therapy was discontinued, and the condition was managed with narcotics and aggressive insulin therapy. Eight weeks after initial presentation, the patient reported complete resolution of symptoms.

Conclusion: Diabetic muscle infarction is a rare but underrecognized complication of diabetes. To our knowledge, we present only the second such reported case of upper extremity involvement in the literature. The results of pathologic examination interpreted in the context of the patient's clinical history were consistent with the diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / diagnosis*
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Infarction / etiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Muscles / blood supply*
  • Muscles / ultrastructure