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Chronic abdominal pain and diarrhea

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Pigmented macules on the patient’s oral mucosa provided an important clue to the diagnosis.


 

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A 15-year-old girl was brought to the Family Medicine Clinic in Somaliland, Africa, for evaluation of intermittent abdominal pain and watery diarrhea of 12 years’ duration. Over the previous 2 months, her symptoms had worsened and included vomiting and weight loss. She denied fever, melena, or hematemesis.

Physical examination revealed a thin female with a normal abdominal exam and numerous hyperpigmented macules on the lips, buccal mucosa, fingers, and toes (FIGURE 1). Her family reported that the black spots on her lips had been there since birth. There was no known family history of similar symptoms or black spots.

Scattered hyperpigmented macules

Her hemoglobin was 10 g/dL (reference range, 12–15 g/dL). A probable diagnosis was discussed with the family, and they elected to travel to India for further evaluation due to limited diagnostic resources in their location. In India, computed tomography (CT) and ultrasonography showed duodenojejunal intussusception. Upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy revealed multiple polyps from the lower stomach to the jejunum of the small bowel; colonoscopy was normal.

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