Scurvy is still present in developed countries.J Gen Intern Med 2008; 23(8):1281-4JG
Scurvy, while uncommon, still occurs in developed countries despite the widespread availability of vitamins and fortified foods. A vitamin C deficiency prevalence of 10 to 14% in adults was reported in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in 1994.
We report the case of a 57-year-old male who presented with a combined vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) and a Zinc deficiency.
He came to the emergency department complaining of a painful swollen ecchymotic leg and dyspnea. Prescriptions for narcotics did not relieve his symptoms. When a detailed dietary history was obtained, we added scurvy to the differential diagnosis. An extensive evaluation excluded trauma, coagulopathies, neoplasia, and vasculitides.
The combination of a classic skin biopsy and a low vitamin C level confirmed the diagnosis.
This presentation illustrates the necessity of including scurvy in the differential diagnosis of ecchymoses and demonstrates specific populations at risk: single adults and the elderly with deficient diets.