Waldmann disease

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Waldmann disease, also known as Waldmann's disease and Primary intestinal lymphangiectasia, is a rare disease[1] characterized by enlargement of the lymph vessels supplying the lamina propria of the small intestine.[2]

Although its prevalence is unknown, it being classified as a "rare disease" means that less than 200,000 of the population of the United States are affected by this condition and its subtypes.[1][3]

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of the disease include diarrhea, nausea, swelling of the legs, protein-losing enteropathy, immunodeficiency and loss of lymphatic fluid into the intestines.[2][4] It is usually diagnosed before the patient is 3 years old, but it is sometimes diagnosed in adults.[3]


The illness is usually caused by lymphatic vessels that were misshaped at birth, causing obstruction and subsequent enlargement. The condition can also be a result of other illnesses such as constrictive pericarditis and pancreatitis. The disease is diagnosed by doing a biopsy of the affected area. Severity of the disease is then determined by measuring alpha1-antitrypsin proteins in a stool sample.[4]


Once the main cause of the disease is treated, a diet of low-fat and high-protein aliments, supplemental calcium and certain vitamins has been shown to reduce symptom effects.[4] This diet, however, is not a cure. If the diet is stopped, the symptoms will eventually reappear.[3]


The disease was first reported in 1961 by T.A. Waldmann. He described 18 cases of patients having a low level 131I-albumin. Biopsies of the small intestine were examined under the microscope and found various levels of dilatation of the lymph vessels.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Waldmann disease". Retrieved 2009-06-11.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Boursier, V.; Vignes, S. (May 2004). "Limb lymphedema as a first manifestation of primary intestinal lymphangiectasia (Waldmann's disease)". Journal des maladies vasculaires. 29 (2): 103–106. doi:10.1016/S0398-0499(04)96722-4. ISSN 0398-0499. PMID 15229406.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Vignes, S.; Bellanger, J. (Feb 2008). "Primary intestinal lymphangiectasia (Waldmann's disease)". Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases (Free full text). 3: 5. doi:10.1186/1750-1172-3-5. PMC 2288596. PMID 18294365.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Ruiz, Atenodoro R. "Intestinal Lymphangiectasia". Merck. Retrieved 2009-06-11.
  5. Vignes, S.; Bellanger, J. (Mar 2007). "Intérêt de l'entéroscopie par vidéocapsule dans le diagnostic des lymphangiectasies intestinales primitives". La Revue de medecine interne / fondee ... par la Societe nationale francaise de medecine interne (in French). 28 (3): 173–175. doi:10.1016/j.revmed.2006.11.019. ISSN 0248-8663. PMID 17229491. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help)