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A case of polyarteritis nodosa limited to the right calf muscles, fascia, and skin: a case report

Author(s): Ahmed Saad | Kitchen Joanne | Hamilton Samuel | Brett Francesca | Kane David

Journal: Journal of Medical Case Reports
ISSN 1752-1947

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 450;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Introduction Limited polyarteritis nodosa is a rare benign disease that usually responds well to systemic corticosteroid treatment. We report a case limited to calf muscles, fascia, and skin treated with local corticosteroid therapy directed to the affected areas by ultrasound guidance. Case presentation A 36-year-old Caucasian woman presented with a 10-month history of progressive right calf pain and swelling, which were unresponsive to treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physiotherapy. An examination revealed a swollen tender right calf with indurated overlying skin. Laboratory investigations showed an erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 24 mm/hour and a C-reactive protein of 15 mg/dl. Full blood count, renal profile, and creatinine kinase level were normal. A full autoantibody screen and hepatitis B and C serology results were negative. A chest X-ray was unremarkable. Magnetic resonance imaging of the right leg revealed increased signal intensity in T2-weighted images and this was suggestive of extensive inflammatory changes of the gastrocnemius muscle and, to a lesser extent, the soleus muscle. There were marked inflammatory changes throughout the gastrocnemius muscle and the subcutaneous tissue circumferentially around the right lower leg. A biopsy of affected skin, muscle, and fascia showed histopathological features consistent with polyarteritis nodosa, including small-vessel vasculitis with fibrinoid changes in the vessel wall and intense perivascular and focal mural chronic inflammatory changes. Our patient declined treatment with oral steroids. She received a course of ultrasound-guided injections of steroid (Depo-Medrone, methylprednisolone) in the involved muscle area and commenced maintenance azathioprine with a good response. Conclusions Limited polyarteritis nodosa is rare and affects middle-aged individuals. In most cases, treatment with moderate- to high-dose corticosteroids gives symptomatic relief within one week. Resistant cases require treatment with cytotoxics or intravenous immunoglobulins. This case demonstrates response to local targeted steroid therapy as an alternative to systemic steroids.

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