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    Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome

    Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome is failure of the adrenal gland due to bleeding into the gland.

    Causes

    This condition is caused by severe infection with meningococcus bacteria or other severe infection from bacteria, such as:

    • Group B streptococcus
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
    • S. pneumoniae
    • Staphylococcus aureus

    Rarely, Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome can be caused by the use of medications that promote blood clotting. Other causes include:

    • Low platelet counts
    • Primary antiphospholipid syndrome
    • Renal vein thrombosis
    • Steroid use

    Possible Complications

    Complications include:

    • Acute adrenal gland insufficiency
    • Shock

    It is deadly if not treated right away.

    References

    Meurer WJ, Lavoie FW. Central nervous system infections. In: Marx JA, Hockberger Rs, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009: chap 107.

    Maitra A. The endocrine system. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Fausto N, Aster JC, eds. Robbins and Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 24.

    White PC. Adrenocortical insufficiency. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 569.

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          Tests for Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome

            Review Date: 1/26/2012

            Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital (8/24/2011).

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            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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