Massive gastrointestinal haemorrhage in isolated intestinal Henoch-Schonlein purpura with response to intravenous immunoglobulin infusion.
There is increasing recognition that Henoch-Schonlein purpura may present in an atypical form in which gastrointestinal symptoms may predominate, and classic cutaneous changes may be delayed or absent. This may lead to significant diagnostic delay. We report the case of a 9-year-old girl who presented acutely with life-threatening gastrointestinal haemorrhage from multiple intestinal sites, with no skin rash and only mild evidence of renal involvement. Henoch-Schonlein purpura was confirmed by finding IgA deposition on vessels within gastric and duodenal mucosa, while immunohistochemistry also identified dense focal T cell infiltration in gastric mucosa and within duodenal epithelium. After initial stabilisation, the patient became shocked due to further gastrointestinal haemorrhage. Isotope bleeding scan identified multiple bleeding sites. Her endoscopically confirmed gastritis was sufficiently severe to preclude corticosteroids, and she was thus treated with intravenous immunoglobulin. This therapy induced prompt and sustained resolution of symptoms, and she has remained well since. Our patient's response concords with previous reports in corticosteroid-resistant cases to suggest that severe intestinal Henoch-Schonlein purpura may respond preferentially to intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) therapy. In severe cases where there is significant gastritis, IVIG provides an effective alternative to corticosteroids that may be employed as first-line therapy.
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