CC BY 4.0 · Surg J (N Y) 2021; 07(02): e62-e65
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1728652
Case Report

Nicolau Syndrome: An Unforeseen Yet Evadable Consequence of Intramuscular Injection

1   Department of Surgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
1   Department of Surgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
1   Department of Surgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
Vikram VS
1   Department of Surgery, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
› Author Affiliations


An intramuscular (IM) injection is one of the common routes for administering drugs, commonly analgesics and vaccines. Nicolau syndrome refers to the rapid-onset painful, extensive cutaneous discoloration progressing to necrosis and ulceration, reported after IM injections. This case report highlights a rare but avoidable complication of such injections. An elderly man presented with extensive cutaneous necrosis and discoloration over the buttocks extending to the thigh, within few days after receiving a single shot of IM injection of diclofenac. Management involved wound care, biopsy, and cultures with supportive antibiotics to control superadded infection. After multiple sittings of extensive surgical debridement, the wound showed signs of healing and was ultimately amicable for skin grafting in a month.

Health care workers need sensitization toward such a complication that can occur out of a routine procedure like an IM injection. They should follow standard IM injections techniques and take precautions to avoid this mishap, which adds to the patient's morbidity.

Publication History

Received: 13 April 2020

Accepted: 22 February 2021

Article published online:
25 May 2021

© 2021. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, permitting unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction so long as the original work is properly cited. (

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