Warning: this article contains images of a medical nature.
A 64-year-old woman has developed a series of bulbous lumps across her back and upper torso, which have been attributed to years of heavy drinking.
The woman, who was also very weak and confused, was diagnosed with Madelung's disease, a rare condition where fatty tumours crop up around the neck, shoulders, upper arms and upper trunk.
It is usually found in males with a history of alcohol abuse, but can occasionally occur in women, too.
The woman was admitted to The Brooklyn Hospital Center where doctors were left baffled by her condition.
Upon physical examination, they discovered that the woman was covered in large lumps across her upper body, including her back, shoulders and arms.
Scans showed that the lumps were non-cancerous.
The woman reported suffering from progressive muscle weakness over the course of one year, which had worsened to the point where she was housebound.
She also explained that she had been a heavy drinker for 40 years.
After conducting blood tests on the woman, doctors diagnosed her with ketoacidosis. This occurs when a severe lack of insulin means the body cannot use glucose for energy, and the body starts to break down other body tissue as an alternative energy source.
Ketones are the by-product of this process. They are poisonous chemicals which build up and, if left unchecked, will cause the body to become acidic.
If left untreated, it can be fatal.
She was also diagnosed with fatty liver disease, which is likely to be as a result of excessive drinking.
After weighing up all of her symptoms, doctors diagnosed her with Madelung's disease.
According to the US-based Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD), the disease leads to the accumulation of fatty tissue over time and may lead to a loss of neck mobility and pain.
The lumps can cause physical deformity and damage to the peripheral nervous system.
In the majority of cases, the disease is benign. However, lipomas can become cancerous in rare circumstances.
It is not known what exactly causes Madelung's disease, but it may be associated with mutations in a particular type of DNA (called mitochondrial DNA), and/or alcoholism.
The woman was offered liposuction and was advised by doctors to stop drinking to halt progression of the disease. She agreed to give up alcohol but did not want surgery to shrink the lumps.
Her case was shared in the journal BMJ Case Reports.
[H/T Daily Mail]