Anorexia Nervosa

Severe Anorexia Nervosa: Outcomes from a Medical Stabilization Unit

International Journal of Eating Disorders
By Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS


Objective: We report data from the medical stabilization and refeeding of patients with severe anorexia nervosa admitted over a 15-month period.

Method: Through chart review and computerized data collection, we evaluated demographic and clinical data from 25 consecutive patients admitted to our medical stabilization unit from October 2008 to January 2010.

Results: In this adult-patient population with a median body mass index (BMI) of 13.1 kg/m(2) (interquartile range, 11.0-14.4), 44% developed hypoglycemia, 76% had abnormal liver function, 83% had abnormal bone density, 45% developed refeeding hypophosphatemia, and 92% were hypothermic. Severe liver function abnormality predicted the development of hypoglycemia (p = 0.02, OR 9.78, CI: 1.55-61.65). No clinical features predicted hypophosphatemia, including admission BMI (p = 0.19), serum glucose level (p = 0.21), elevated liver function tests (p = 0.39 for AST), or initial amount of kilocalories consumed (p = 0.06).

Written by

Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS

Dr. Philip S. Mehler began his career at Denver Health more than 35 years ago and was formerly its Chief of Internal Medicine and then Denver Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) until he was promoted…

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

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