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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Pancreatitis: An Uncommon Presentation of a Common Disease

Eduardo A. Rodriguez, Daniel A. Sussman, Vanessa R. Rodriguez

(Internal Medicine Resident, University of Miami Palm Beach Regional Campus, Atlantis, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2014; 15:501-503

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.891281


Background: Acute pancreatitis is uncommon in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). When recognized early and properly treated with IV steroids and hydration, the course may be benign, as exemplified in the following report.
Case Report: A 21-year-old woman with history of SLE and stage IV lupus nephritis, was admitted to the Sergio Bernales Hospital ICU (Lima, Peru), complaining of worsening epigastric pain radiating to the back, and nausea and vomiting for 1 week. She denied prior cholelithiasis, alcohol use, or recent medication changes.
On examination, she was tachycardic and normotensive, with a slightly distended abdomen and epigastric tenderness on deep palpation, without signs of peritoneal irritation.
Laboratory results demonstrated leukocytosis without left shift, creatinine of 2.26 mg/dL, amylase of 750 U/L, and lipase of 1038 U/L. Liver chemistries, calcium, lactic acid, triglycerides, and IgG4 were normal and alcohol level was undetectable. Ultrasound did not show cholelithiasis, biliary sludge, or common bile duct dilation. CT of the abdomen showed pancreas head (parenchyma) stranding with uniform enhancement consistent with interstitial pancreatitis.
Despite receiving IV fluids, opiates, anti-emetics, and nothing by mouth, her clinical condition deteriorated, prompting the use of IV methylprednisolone. After completing 1 week of IV steroids, she was transferred to the medical floor clinically improved. The patient was discharged with an oral steroid taper and complete resolution of symptoms.
Conclusions: After ruling out common causes, such as hepatobiliary pathology or toxin-related insults like alcohol, hypercalcemia, hypertriglyceridemia or medications, steroids may be used in SLE pancreatitis because they might improve the overall prognosis.

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