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Madelung's disease is a disorder of fat metabolism (lipid storage) that results in an unusual accumulation of fat deposits around the neck and shoulder areas. Adult alcoholic males are most often affected, although women and those who do not drink alcohol can also get Madelung's disease.
Madelung's disease is characterized by massive deposits of fatty tumors (lipoma) located symmetrically around the neck, and on the shoulders, upper arms and upper trunk. These abnormal fat deposits may grow rapidly over the course of months or more slowly over a period of years. The rest of the body may be lean in contrast to the affected parts. The fatty deposits do not indicate malignancy and, while disfiguring, may not impair functioning.
Peripheral neuropathy, or impaired function of the nerves in the arms and legs, often accompanies Madelung's disease, especially as the affected person grows older. However, these neurological deficits may be difficult to distinguish from the long-term effects of alcoholism when overuse of alcohol is a factor.
Sometimes, there are metabolic abnormalities and other diseases associated with Madelung's disease. These may include diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and liver disease.
The exact cause of Madelung's disease is not known. The body's inability to properly metabolize fat indicates that it may be an endocrine disorder. Some scientists believe a predisposition to the disorder may be inherited and there have been some reports of cases that appear to be familial. However, the mode of transmission in those cases has not been determined.
Madelung's disease most frequently affects middle-aged males. The condition is most common in those who abuse alcohol. However, this disease is also found in women and persons who do not consume alcohol. For reasons that are unclear, the disorder appears to be more prevalent in Europe than in the United States.
Dercum Disease is a rare disorder characterized by multiple, painful fatty deposits (lipomas), primarily on the trunk, forearms, and lower legs. It is associated with pain that may be caused by these deposits pressing on nearby nerves.
This disorder usually occurs in obese females between the ages of 45 and 60. Various areas of the body may swell for no apparent reason. The swelling may disappear without treatment, leaving hardened tissue or pendulous skin folds. In some cases, affected individuals may also experience depression, lethargy, and/or confusion. (For more information on this disorder, choose "Dercum Disease" as your search term in the Rare Disease Database.)
Lipomas are single, painless lumps that most often appear in older women. Varying in size from a dime to a quarter, they are composed of fatty tissue. They are slow growing, soft, and movable. Doctors often recommend laboratory examination of a sample of the tissue (a biopsy), or complete removal, to confirm a diagnosis.
A lymphatic tumor is also called a lymphoma. It is a cancer involving cells of the lymphatic system. Hodgkin's disease is the most common lymphoma in the general population. Among children, however, several other types of lymphoma, classified together as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, are more likely to occur. Unlike Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can run in families. Boys are affected more often than girls. Fortunately, this kind of lymphoma is highly treatable, and the cure rate is excellent, particularly if the illness is detected early. There are three major types of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, classified on the basis of the type of lymphatic cell (lymphocyte) involved and the organs affected at the time of diagnosis. (For more information on this disorder, choose "Hodgkin's Disease" as your search term in the Rare Disease Database.)
Madelung's disease is sometimes misdiagnosed as sialadenitis, an inflammation of the salivary glands. The inflammation may involve any of the glands that make up the salivary gland system (parotid, submandibular and sublingual glands).
The diagnosis of Madelung's disease may involve ultrasound images, CAT scans, or magnetic resonance imaging.
Treatment consists of surgical removal of the fatty deposits from the areas around the head, neck, shoulders and trunk. Liposuction has been used successfully to remove single fatty tumors.
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FROM THE INTERNET
McKusick VA, ed. Online Mendelian Inheritance In Man (OMIM). The Johns Hopkins University. Lipomatosis, Familial Benign Cervical. Entry Number; 151800: Last Edit Date; 7/7/1997.
Madelungs Disease: Inherited from an Ancient Mediterranean Population. 1999.
Report last updated: 2005/04/01 00:00:00 GMT+0