Intestinal obstruction in a mentally retarded patient due to pica
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Abstract A 40-year-old mentally retarded Japanese man was admitted at rehabilitation facility for handicapped persons and found dead in his bed. His neonatal period was complicated by seizures, and he had a medical history of schizophrenia. A postmortem computed tomography scan suggested an intestinal obstruction, but the cause was unknown. To clarify the cause of death, a medicolegal autopsy was carried out. The gastrointestinal tract was found to contain copious amounts of cloth pieces. A diagnosis of intestinal obstruction secondary to pica of clothes was made. Despite still being an essentially neglect condition; mental retardation is cause to significant burden to the patient, his relatives and caregivers and the whole society. Moreover, people with mental retardation may be at increased risk for potentially self-injury due to ingestion of non-eating substance or incongruent intake of eating substances, which may on turn lead to severe or even life-threatening medical and surgical complications as herein reported. Specific attention also to pica in mentally-retarded patients with sudden, severe, gastrointestinal events, should therefore be placed in order to prevent potential death or otherwise severe chronic consequences, ideally aiming at enhancing the early recognition and multi-disciplinary management of those psychological stressors or triggers potentially responsible for pica too.