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02 May 2023 : Case report  USA

[In Press] Cryptogenic Abdominal Pain: Recognizing False Leads

Challenging differential diagnosis, Rare coexistence of disease or pathology

Amna Anees1ABCDEFF

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.939504

Am J Case Rep In Press; DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.939504  

Available online: 2023-05-02, In Press, Corrected Proof

Publication in the "In-Press" formula aims at speeding up the public availability of the pending manuscript while waiting for the final publication. The assigned DOI number is active and citable. The availability of the article in the Medline, PubMed and PMC databases as well as Web of Science will be obtained after the final publication according to the journal schedule



Lead toxicity is a rare yet serious condition which can be difficult to diagnose due to vague presenting symptoms. Other pathologies can also mimic the symptoms of chronic lead toxicity, making an already difficult diagnosis more challenging. There are multiple environmental and occupational contributors to lead toxicity. A thorough history and an open differential is the key to diagnosing and treating this rare disease. With increasing diversity of our patient population, we should keep an open differential, as the epidemiological features of presenting concerns have diversified as well.
A 47-year-old woman presented with persistent nonspecific abdominal pain despite extensive prior work, surgeries and a prior diagnosis of porphyria. This patient was eventually diagnosed as having lead toxicity when her most recent work-up for abdominal pain revealed no urine porphobilinogen and a high lead level. The cause of lead toxicity was attributed to be an eye cosmetic called “Surma”, which can have variable lead levels. Chelation therapy was advised for the patient.
It is important to recognize the difficulty in this challenging diagnosis for nonspecific abdominal pain and to eliminate the mimickers. This case is interesting because the patient was initially diagnosed with porphyria, highlighting how heavy metals, lead in this case, can lead to a false-positive diagnosis of porphyria. Accurate diagnosis requires awareness of the role of urine porphobilinogen, checking lead levels, and an open differential. This case also emphasizes the importance of avoiding anchor bias to make a timely diagnosis of lead toxicity.

Keywords: Abdominal Pain; Lead Poisoning; Porphyrias

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American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923
American Journal of Case Reports eISSN: 1941-5923