Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome

Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome

Name = Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome

Caption =
DiseasesDB = 29316
ICD10 = ICD10|A|39|1|a|30, ICD10|E|35|1|e|20
ICD9 = ICD9|036.3
MedlinePlus =
eMedicineSubj = med
eMedicineTopic = 3009
MeshID = D014884

Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome (WFS) is a disease of the adrenal glands mostly commonly caused by the bacterium "Neisseria meningitidis". The infection leads to massive hemorrhage into one or (usually) both adrenal glands.cite book | author = Kumar V, Abbas A, Fausto N | title = Robins and Coltran: Pathological Basis of Disease | edition = 7th | publisher = Elsevier | year = 2005 | pages = pp. 1214–5 | id = ISBN 978-0721601878] It is characterized by overwhelming bacterial infection meningococcemia, low blood pressure and shock, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) with widespread purpura, and rapidly developing adrenocortical insufficiency.


"Meningococcus" is another term for the bacterial species "Neisseria meningitidis", blood infection with which usually underlies WFS.

WFS can also be caused by "Streptococcus pneumoniae" infections, a common bacterial pathogen typically associated with meningitis in the adult and elderly population. "Staphylococcus aureus" has recently also been implicated in pediatric WFS.cite journal |author=Adem P, Montgomery C, Husain A, Koogler T, Arangelovich V, Humilier M, Boyle-Vavra S, Daum R |title=Staphylococcus aureus sepsis and the Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome in children |journal=N Engl J Med |volume=353 |issue=12 |pages=1245–51 |year=2005 |pmid=16177250 |doi=10.1056/NEJMoa044194]

Routine vaccination against meningococcus is recommended for people who have poor splenic function (who, for example, have had their spleen removed or who have sickle-cell disease which damages the spleen), or who have certain immune disorders, such as a complement deficiency.cite journal |author=Rosa D, Pasqualotto A, de Quadros M, Prezzi S |title=Deficiency of the eighth component of complement associated with recurrent meningococcal meningitis--case report and literature review |journal=Braz J Infect Dis |volume=8 |issue=4 |pages=328–30 |year=2004 |pmid=15565265 |doi=10.1590/S1413-86702004000400010]

igns and symptoms

WFS is the most severe form of meningococcal septicemia. The onset of the illness is nonspecific with fever, rigors, vomiting, and headache. Soon a rash appears; first macular, not much different from the rose spots of typhoid, and rapidly becoming petechial and purpuric with a dusky gray color. Low blood pressure (hypotension) is the rule and rapidly leads to septic shock. The cyanosis of extremities can be impressive and the patient is very prostrated or comatose. In this form of meningococcal disease, meningitis generally does not occur. There is hypoglycemia with hyponatremia and hyperkalemia, and the ACTH stimulation test demonstrates the acute adrenal failure. Leukocytosis need not to be extreme and in fact leukopenia may be seen and it is a very poor prognostic sign. C-reactive protein levels can be elevated or almost normal. Thrombocytopenia is sometimes extreme, with alteration in prothrombin time (PT) and partial thromboplastin time (PTT) suggestive of diffuse intravascular coagulation (DIC). Acidosis and acute renal failure can be seen as in any severe sepsis. Meningococci can be readily cultured from blood or CSF, and can sometimes be seen in smears of cutaneous lesions.


Fulminant meningococcemia is a medical emergency and need to be treated with adequate antibiotics as fast as possible. Benzylpenicillin was once the drug of choice with chloramphenicol as a good alternative in allergic patients. Ceftriaxone is an antibiotic commonly employed today. Hydrocortisone can sometimes reverse the hypoadrenal shock. Sometimes plastic surgery and grafting is needed to deal with tissue necrosis.


Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome is named after Rupert Waterhouse (1873–1958), an English physician, and Carl Friderichsen (1886–1979), a Danish pediatrician, who wrote papers on the syndrome, which had been previously described.cite journal | author = Waterhouse R | title = A case of suprarenal apoplexy | journal = Lancet | year = 1911 | volume = 1 |pages = 577–8 | doi = 10.1016/S0140-6736(01)60988-7 ] cite journal | author = Friderichsen C | title = Nebennierenapoplexie bei kleinen Kindern | journal = Jahrb Kinderheilk | year = 1918 | volume = 87 | pages = 109–25 ]


External links

* [http://www.whonamedit.com/synd.cfm/2187.html Whonamedit.com] page on the eponym

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome — Wa·ter·house Frid·er·ich·sen syndrome wȯt ər .hau̇s frid (ə )rik sən n acute and severe meningococcemia with hemorrhage into the adrenal glands Waterhouse Rupert (1873 1958) British physician , and Friderichsen Carl (1886 1979) Danish physician …   Medical dictionary

  • Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome — ▪ pathology       a rare type of septicemia (blood poisoning) of rapid and severe onset, marked by fever, collapse and sometimes coma, hemorrhage from skin and mucous membranes, and severe bilateral hemorrhage of the adrenal cortical tissue. The… …   Universalium

  • Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome — noun syndrome associated with bacterial meningitis; marked by sudden high fever and skin discoloration and petechiae with hemorrhage into the adrenal glands and cardiovascular collapse • Hypernyms: ↑syndrome * * * ˈwȯ]d.ə(r)ˌhau̇ˈsfrid(ə)riksən …   Useful english dictionary

  • Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome — acute haemorrhage in the adrenal glands with haemorrhage into the skin associated with the sudden onset of acute bacteraemic shock. It is usually caused by meningococcal septicaemia (see meningitis) [Waterhouse (1873–1958), British physician; C.… …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • Синдром Уотерхаузафридериксена, Сепсис Молниеносный Менингококковый (Waterhouse-Friderichsen Syndrome) — очень остро протекающий сепсис с острыми кровоизлияниями в надпочечники, сопровождающимися подкожными кровоизлияниями и внезапным наступлением острого бактериального шока. Причиной развития данного состояния (чаще всего у детей ред.) обычно… …   Медицинские термины

  • Waterhouse — may refer to:;Surname: * Agnes Waterhouse (c.1503 1566), first woman executed for witchcraft in England. * Alfred Waterhouse (1830–1905), English architect. * Benjamin Waterhouse (1754 1846), American physician. * Bill Waterhouse, Australian… …   Wikipedia

  • Friderichsen-Waterhouse syndrome — Frid·er·ich·sen Wa·ter·house syndrome (fridґrik sən wawґtər hous) [Carl Friderichsen, Danish pediatrician, 20th century; Rupert Waterhouse, British physician, 1873–1958] Waterhouse Friderichsen syndrome …   Medical dictionary

  • Friderichsen-Waterhouse syndrome — Waterhouse Friderichsen s …   Medical dictionary

  • Syndrome du choc toxique — CIM 10 : A48.3 Le syndrome du choc toxique (SCT) est une maladie infectieuse rare et aiguë, potentiellement létale, causée par une toxine bactérienne qui pénètre dans la circulation sanguine suite à une infection par un agent pathogène.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • syndrome — The aggregate of symptoms and signs associated with any morbid process, and constituting together the picture of the disease. SEE ALSO: disease. [G. s., a running together, tumultuous concourse; (in med.) a concurrence of symptoms, fr. syn,… …   Medical dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.