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Apoplexy

Definition

Apoplexy is bleeding into an organ or loss of blood flow to an organ. For example, adrenal apoplexy is bleeding into the adrenal glands, pituitary apoplexy is bleeding into the pituitary gland, and so on.

When the word apoplexy (with no organ specified) is used alone, it often refers to stroke symptoms that occur suddenly. Such symptoms can be caused by bleeding into the brain or by a blood clot in a brain blood vessel. Conditions such as subarachnoid hemorrhage or stroke are sometimes called apoplexy.

Functional apoplexy is when a person appears to be having stroke-like symptoms but there is no brain abnormality.

References

Zivin JA. Approach to cerebrovascular disease. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 413.

Zull D. Thyroid and adrenal disorders. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 126.


Review Date: 8/7/2011
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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