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pseudoxanthoma elasticum pseu·do·xan·tho·ma e·las·ti·cum (sōō'dō-zān-thō'mə ĭ-lās'tĭ-kəm)
inherited disease in which the premature breakdown of exposed skin occurs. It is characterized by eruptions of yellow plaques and thickening and grooving of the skin on the face, neck, and sometimes the armpits, abdomen, and groin. The skin loses its elasticity and hangs loosely from underlying structures. Affected persons show signs of poor circulation in the extremities; leg muscles tire easily, and spontaneous bleeding into the tissues or from any opening is common. The heart muscles have many small calcified deposits. Angioid streaks (streaks resembling blood vessels) of the retina are found in at least 80 percent of the cases. Through the ophthalmoscope the angioid streaks can be seen as brown or brownish black bands that resemble the normal retinal vessels but are generally much wider. These streaks are produced by breaks in the elastin-rich internal membrane of the choroid, which permits the choroidal pigment to be seen. Deterioration of vision may occur because of bleeding or degenerative changes. Pseudoxanthoma elasticum is inherited as an autosomal recessive disorder.