A Literally Massive Problem


A 60-year-old woman presents to dermatology with a longstanding complaint of a tender, irritated mass hanging from her lower abdomen. The patient says it started as a large fold in her lower abdomen but over the years has grown and become more pendulous. It is now large enough to interfere with normal activity, including walking.

Numerous providers, dermatologists included, have rendered diagnoses—most recently, hidradenitis suppurativa. The antibiotics prescribed for that diagnosis have not helped, however. Similarly, cultures performed on samples from draining sores on the mass’s posterior have failed to illuminate the situation, showing only mixed normal flora.

The patient’s primary care provider referred her to surgery for consideration of removal, or at least reduction, of the mass. The surgeon offered a presumptive diagnosis of elephantiasis nostras verrucosa of the pannus and agreed to perform the surgery. But the patient’s primary care provider requested a second opinion from dermatology.

A Literally Massive Problem

The edematous, pendulous mass is the size of a soccer ball and hangs down from its abdominal base. When the patient stands, the mass stretches almost to the level of her knees. The anterior surface is edematous but otherwise normal in appearance. The intertriginous surfaces of the lesion look entirely different, with multiple small, draining puncta and a few open comedones.

A Literally Massive Problem

The body of the mass is quite indurated but is neither hot nor tender. There are no comedones or cysts in other intertriginous locations, as might be seen in hidradenitis.

What’s the diagnosis?


Next Article: