Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 37, Issue 8, pp 691–700 | Cite as

Extrathyroidal manifestations of Graves’ disease: a 2014 update




Graves’ orbitopathy (GO), thyroid dermopathy (also called pretibial myxedema) and acropachy are the extrathyroidal manifestations of Graves’ disease. They occur in 25, 1.5, and 0.3 % of Graves’ patients, respectively. Thus, GO is the main and most common extrathyroidal manifestation. Dermopathy is usually present if the patient is also affected with GO. The very rare acropachy occurs only in patients who also have dermopathy. GO and dermopathy have an autoimmune origin and are probably triggered by autoimmunity to the TSH receptor and, likely, the IGF-1 receptor. Both GO and dermopathy may be mild to severe.


Mild GO usually does not require any treatment except for local measures and preventive actions (especially refraining from smoking). Currently, moderate-to-severe and active GO is best treated by systemic glucocorticoids, but response to treatment is not optimal in many instances, and retreatments and use of other modalities (glucocorticoids, orbital radiotherapy, cyclosporine) and, in the end, rehabilitative surgery are often needed. Dermopathy is usually managed by local glucocorticoid treatment. No specific treatment is available for acropachy.


Novel treatments are presently being investigated for GO, and particular attention is paid to the use of rituximab. It is unknown whether novel treatments for GO might be useful for the other extrathyroidal manifestations. Future novel therapies shown to be beneficial for GO in randomized studies may be empirically used for dermopathy and acropachy.


Graves’ disease Graves’ orbitopathy Thyroid dermopathy Thyroid acropachy Glucocorticoids Biologics Rituximab 



This work was partially supported by grants from the Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR, Rome, PRIN n. 2012Z3F7HE_006) to Luigi Bartalena.

Conflict of interest

None to declare.


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Experimental MedicineUniversity of Insubria, Endocrine Unit, Ospedale di CircoloVareseItaly
  2. 2.Department of Endocrinology and MetabolismMayo ClinicRochesterUSA

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