RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Death in pemphigus.

Pemphigus is frequently a fatal skin disease. The cause of death and the events leading to it were investigated by examining patient records and autopsy data of thirteen patients who died as a result of this disease at the UCLA Hospital between 1965 and 1980. The diagnosis was confirmed histologically and/or by immunofluorescent studies of the skin and serum. Infection was the most frequent cause of death, and septicemia was found in nine of thirteen cases. The most commonly found organism was Staphylococcus aureus. The skin was usually the source of infection. Nine patients had pneumonia on chest x-ray and autopsy examination. Most patients had low levels of serum proteins and serum albumin. Since the patients were on long-term high doses of corticosteroids, the signs and symptoms of inflammation were often masked. This study demonstrated that for this reason, long-term corticosteroid therapy is one of the significant factors contributing to the death of these patients. A cautious and judicious use of steroids is suggested.

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