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“Phantom” restless legs syndrome
  1. R Vetrugno1,
  2. M Alessandria1,
  3. R D’Angelo1,
  4. A Concetti1,
  5. G Lopane2,
  6. E Antelmi1,
  7. P Montagna1
  1. 1
    Department of Neurological Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  2. 2
    Unit of Rehabilitation, Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr R Vetrugno, Dipartimento di Scienze Neurologiche dell’Università di Bologna, Via Ugo Foscolo 7-40123 Bologna, Italy; roberto.vetrugno{at}

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A “body image” is an internal construct of a unitary corporeal self that endures in space and time, even after partial amputations of the physical body. A body image provides the substrate for the feeling of “residual” experiences of the missing body part, that is the “phantom” phenomenon.1

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is characterised by uncomfortable sensations, usually affecting the legs, associated with an urge to move, worsening at rest, in the evening, and at night, and which increase during attempts to remain still.2

We report the case of a patient who developed painful “phantom” phenomena after the amputation of both legs and the upper right forearm. One year later, in the absent portions of his extremities, there began symptoms that he had never experienced before the amputations, and that he clearly distinguished from the “phantom.” These symptoms were congruent with a diagnosis of RLS.

Case report

A 56-year-old man began haemodialysis at age 39 due to a chronic renal failure secondary to glomerular nephropathy. Thereafter he developed a severe arteriosclerotic obliterative arteriopathy that led to gangrene at the age of 51, necessitating bilateral above-knee and right below-elbow amputations. A few days after the amputations, “phantom” phenomena began consisting of attacks of …

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  • Competing interests None.