PlummerVinson syndrome (also termed Paterson Kelly syndrome) is an uncommon disorder manifested by a constellation of findings, including iron deficiency anemia and proximal cervical esophageal webs. It is most typically found in middleaged women. The precise relationship of the webs to the anemia is unclear. The chief characteristic of PlummerVinson syndrome is dysphagia, which is often accompanied by hypochromic anemia.
The patient’s chief complaints are invariably difficulty in swallowing, usually accompanied by generalized weakness due to anemia, and dryness of the mouth with burning of the tongue. The syndrome develops gradually over a period of several months or even years and leads to a sensation of obstruction in the back of the throat and neck. Fluids are in almost all cases well tolerated, whereas solid food may be rejected or impossible to swallow.
Atrophic glossitis and a dry pharyngeal and buccal mucosa, with painful cracks at the angles of the mouth, are present regularly in all patients suffering from this syndrome. The atrophic mucosa may extend into the hypopharynx and into the mouth of the esophagus. Less common are the brittle fingernails and other evidence of multiple avitaminosis.
Older case reports have demonstrated resolution of the webs with correction of the iron deficiency and recurrence without correction. Treatment is generally dilation or endoscopic incision of the web and correction of the iron deficiency anemia.