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Spontaneous Abdominal Hemorrhage with AA-amyloidosis and Vasculitis in a Patient with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Neil SheerinORCiD


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Both rheumatoid vasculitis and amyloidosis in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are uncommon. We describe a patient in whom they occurred together and were associated with fatal intra-abdominal hemorrhage. A 56-year-old Caucasian woman was referred because of increasing lethargy, edema, and proteinuria. She had suffered from seropositive, erosive, nodular RA for 14 years. Previously, she had undergone numerous joint replacements, a thyroidectomy for amyloid-associated (AA) amyloidosis of the thyroid that caused a large goiter and a renal biopsy that showed renal AA-amyloidosis in the context of nephrotic syndrome. As her condition deteriorated, this patient became increasingly reluctant to go to the hospital and to take drugs beyond analgesics. Thus, her RA was chronically under treated. While in the hospital for evaluation, this patient suddenly developed hypotension, tachycardia, and a severe colicky left-sided abdominal pain radiating from the left upper quadrant/epigastric region to the left iliac fossa. Computed tomography (CT) showed a large amount of echogenic free fluid within the abdomen and marked thickening of the omentum.At laparotomy, 2 liters of free blood was found adjacent to a hematoma of the greater omentum, and it was evacuated without identification of a discrete bleeding point. All solid and hollow organs were normal. The omentum was noted to be very friable. She developed a more disseminated bleeding diathesis and persistent peritoneal hemorrhage via her abdominal drains. She succumbed shortly afterward. Histology revealed extensive omental hemorrhage and one large vessel within the area of hemorrhage showed a severe necrotizing vasculitis. Extensive amyloid deposition was also found within the walls of the smaller omental arterioles.Vasculitis in the context of RA is relatively rare and is associated with under treated, seropositive disease. Skin and nerve involvement are most common, but bowel involvement has been reported, with a highly significant morbidity (partly due to late presentation/recognition). Similarly, AA-amyloidosis is a rare but feared long-term concomitant of under treated RA. Early recognition can permit successful anti-inflammatory therapy to affect a clinical and pathological remission; continued inflammatory stimulation is associated with rapid progression and demise. Chronically under treated patients with RA are more prone to rare but potentially devastating complications. Gastrointestinal catastrophes are a feature of both rheumatoid vasculitis and of amyloidosis, here uniquely co-localized.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sheerin N; Jayawardene SA; Pattison JM; Hartley B; Goldsmith DJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Clinical Rheumatology

Year: 2001

Volume: 7

Issue: 2

Pages: 86-90

ISSN (print): 1076-1608

ISSN (electronic): 1536-7355

Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins


DOI: 10.1097/00124743-200104000-00007

Notes: Journal Article United States practical reports on rheumatic & musculoskeletal diseases


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