Pyoderma gangraenosum L88

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

Co-Autors: Dr. med. Philipp Al Ghazal, Hadrian Tran

All authors of this article

Last updated on: 08.05.2022

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Synonym(s)

Brocq's geometric phagedenism; dermatitis ulcerosa; Meleney's ulcer; Meleney Ulcer; phaedanian ulcers; pyoderma gangrenosum; Pyoderma gangrenosum; Pyodermia chronica ulcerosa serpiginosa; pyodermia ulcerosa serpiginosa; Ulcers phaedanian

History
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Brocq, 1916; Brunsting & Goeckermann, 1930

Definition
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Rare, solitary or multiple, chronic-progressive, painful, often crossing the borders of the skin organ to the depth, polycyclic, destructive, sterile neutrophilic inflammation (dermatitis+panniculitis) of unexplained etiology and pathogenesis. The disease is characterized by marked resistance to therapy.

Classification
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A distinction is made according to clinic and histology (var. n. Powell 1996):

  • Ulcerative form (classic and most common type): rapidly deep - or area-progressive, purulent-serous ulceration with undermined, livid-red margins. Associated arthritides, inflammatory bowel disease, monoclonal gammopathies.
  • Pustular form: 0.2-0.8 cm pustules initially sieve through a larger inflammatory plaque. By confluence, the pus foci join to form a smeary purulent ulcerative conglomerate(this constellation is largely identical to the finding described as vegetating pyoderma). Commonly associated inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Bullous form: Subepidermal blistering with inflammatory rim that erodes or ulcerates.
  • Vegetating superficial granulomatous form: superficial usually solitary ulcer without undermined rim, often in surgical scars.
  • Peristomal form: ulcerating, painful papules or plaques around stomas. Evolving to the typical ulcerative form with undermined margins.
  • Mucosal type = pyostomatitis vegetans: this very rare, chronic ulcerative clinical picture of the oral mucosa is considered by some authors to be a (mucosal) variant of pyoderma gangraenosum.

Occurrence/Epidemiology
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The disease is observed worldwide. The incidence is not exactly determined. Estimates are 0.3-1.0/100,000 inhabitants/year.

Occurrence among others in ulcerative colitis (in approx. 5% of cases), Crohn's disease (in approx. 1% of cases), rheumatoid arthritis and in the context of injuries

Etiopathogenesis
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The etiology is not known with certainty. Some patients report minor trauma, insect bites, or surgical procedures as precipitating events.

A malfunction of neutrophil granulocytes is discussed. Recent findings suggest a causal relationship between an abnormal T-cell response with consecutive increased release of TNF-alpha . This would explain the therapeutic effect of TNF-alpha inhibitors.

Mutations in the PSTPIP1 gene: aberrant splice variants of the PSTPIP1 transcript with deletions of exons 9, 11 and 12 as well as exons 9-12 have been shown to occur. The combinations of aberrant splice variants result in frame shifts and premature stop codons associated with truncated proteins and loss of function of PSTPIP1 (Nesterovitch AB et al. 2011). The disease-causing mutations are thought to impair physiological signaling required to maintain an adequate inflammatory response.

Associated in varying prevalence are diverse systemic diseases (Jockenhöfer 2016) such as: inflammatory bowel disease (8.7%), rheumatoid arthritis (5.7%), hematologic diseases (4.0%) such as: multiple myeloma, lymphoma, plasmacytic, IgA deficiency, congenital, myeloproliferative disorders(myeloid leukemia, hairy cell leukemia, myelofibrosis, Hodgkin, M., polycythemia vera , monoclonal gammopathies). In almost all patients, partial aspects of metabolic syndrome can be detected: arterial hypertension (50.3%), diabetes mellitus (25.1%), lipid metabolic disorders (10.8%). The association with ulcerative colitis has decreased in frequency over the years (1957: 60%; 1981: 17%); reports of associations with hematologic disorders are increasing.

Rarer associations are: HIV infection, chronic active hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis, Behçet, M., SLE, Wegener's granulomatosis, hidradenitis suppurativa.

In summary, pyoderma gangraenosum presents with a complex reaction pattern characterized by a clinically typical symptomatology due to dysregulation of different metabolic and signaling pathways. Thus, it is an indicative ulcerative disease that should prompt a subtle internal examination of the affected person.

Manifestation
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Occurrence is possible at any age. Average age in a larger study was 57 years. Frequency peaks in the 25th and 54th years of age. Dominance of the female sex (about 65% of the patients are women).

Localization
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Mainly located on the lower extremities, less frequently on the trunk, neck and head.

Clinical features
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Single or multiple highly inflammatory skin lesions consisting primarily of blisters, pustules, papules, flat nodules or plaques, which are already initially very painful. These often occur after minor traumas (insect bites, minor injuries). Within a few days, flat ulcerations develop, initially flat, but over the course of a few weeks deep-reaching ulcerations that extend beyond the skin organ (subcutis, possibly affecting muscles and tendon beds). Apposition and progression along the edges leads to permanent enlargement. Characteristic and thus of diagnostic importance is an extremely painful marginal zone with a wavy, dark red or even grey, undermined hem. Special form: Postoperative progressive gangrene. A pathergy phenomenon is detectable after trauma.

Histology
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Initially the picture of a superficial and deep neutrophilic follicular or perifollicular dermatitis is shown. Leukocytoclasia may occur. In a later stage, superficial dermal neutrophil abscesses with ulceration appear. In the ulcer area the epidermis is laterally elevated. Dense infiltrate at the base of the ulcer, consisting of neutrophils, lymphocytes, plasma cells, histiocytes and giant foreign body cells. Hyperergic vasculitis may be present.

Diagnosis
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Diagnostic criteria of pyoderma gangraenosusm (var. n.Su W.)
Major criteria Clinical findings Rapidly progressive, extremely painful ulcer with an irregular, undermined livid rim that typically resembles a sterile pustule
Exclusion of other causes Causes of wound adapted to a clinical picture
Minor criteria Histological findings Neutrophil infiltrate in the dermis, signs of lymphocytic vasculitis
Ass. Underlying diseases Inflammatory bowel diseases, arthritides, hematolog. Diseases, neoplasms, metabol. Syndrome
Pathergy phenomenon Triggering by minimal trauma
Therapeutic response to immunosuppression

The diagnosis is considered confirmed when both major criteria and at least 2 minor criteria are met.

The Paracelsus score described by Jockenhöfer et al in 2019 is intended to facilitate diagnosis. This score includes 10 features

Two major criteria represent the rapid disease process present in 98% of pyoderma gangraenosum patients, as well as the red-purple wound margin. Secondary criteria include response to immunosuppressants in 61-95% of patients, extreme painfulness, irregular ulceration shape, localization after trauma, additional criteria include purulent inflammation seen histopathologically in 61% of patients, undermined wound edges, and concomitant systemic diseases. The major criteria are each scored with 3 points, the minor criteria with 2 points, and the additional criteria with 1 point. A score of 10 or more indicates a high probability of pyoderma gangraenosum.

Differential diagnosis
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  • Clinical:
    • Ecthyma: Ulcers of varying depth, usually max.1 cm in diameter, with sharply cut edges and smeary purulent coatings (as if punched out). Possibly lymphangitis and -adenitis. No concomitant systemic disease.
    • Erysipelas (necrotizing): Acute onset with fever, painful swelling and redness, and extensive ulceration. ASL is markedly elevated.
    • Necrotizing vasculitis: Acute onset. Clinical picture of "palpable purpura" is usually detectable. Histological picture of leukocytoclastic vasculitis is regularly detectable. Furthermore formation of hemorrhagic plaques, erosions or extensive, painful ulcers.
    • Livedovasculopathy: always a livedo picture with stabbing permanent pain is detectable (it is not the livedo picture but the stabbing permanent pain that leads to the doctor), usually localised in the ankle region.
    • Ulcus cruris arteriosum: V.a. localized at toes, foot edge, heels or extensor sides of the lower leg. Arterial occlusive disease is almost always demonstrable. The ulcers are painful and sharply demarcated. Serological signs of inflammation are absent. Ulcer pain is improved on immobilisation of the limb.
    • Venous leg ulcer: Mostly chronic ulcer localized in loco typico (splint area of the ankle), of variable size and depth in inflamed, often indurated and hyperpigmented skin as a sign of chronic venous insufficiency. The pain in the ulcer may be persistently severe; it diminishes after elevation.
    • Necrobiosis lipoidica (necrotizing form): Chronic stationary disease, usually lasting for years. Frequently diabetes mellitus. Localization: extensor side of the lower legs. Usually solitary, irregularly configured, sharply demarcated, platelike, rather coarse plaque, with 1 or more interspersed, poorly healing, non-painful or only slightly painful ulcers.

Histologic:

Therapy
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The treatment of a proven underlying disease is the basis of any appropriate therapy.

External therapy
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Stage-specific ulcer therapy, see below wound treatment. Additionally, corticoid externa or also tacrolimus or pimecrolimus (see below calcineurin inhibitors) are recommended.

Internal therapy
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  • first-line therapy:
    • Immunosuppressive with Ciclosporin A (e.g. immunosporin) 5 mg/day/kg bw in combination with glucocorticoids such as prednisone 100-150 mg/day. The effect is usually noticeable within a few days (level of evidence III). In 15-20% of the patients the lesions healed completely within 6 weeks, after 6 months in 47% of the patients (Partridge ACR et al. 2018).
    • Alternatively, glucocorticoids as pulse therapy (1 g/day i.v. day 1-5; if necessary repeat after 4 weeks) (level of evidence III).
  • Experimental therapy approaches (level of evidence IV)
    • In case of resistance to therapy intravenous immunoglobulin administration (IVIG). This therapeutic approach has been reported in several larger monocentric studies (level of evidence III-IV).
    • Successful in individual case reports:
      • Etanercept: 25-50 mg 2 times/week s.c.
      • Mycophenolate mofetil: 2.0-2.5 g/day p.o. as monotherapy or in combination with Ciclosporin A 50 mg/day p.o. and/or prednisolone.
      • In a retrospective multicenter study 13 subjects were treated with Infliximab 5 mg/day/kg bw i.v. All 13 volunteers were completely healed. The first clinical improvement was seen after an average of 11 days. Infliximab will mainly be used in association with Crohn's disease (Partridge ACR et al. 2018).
      • Canakinumab: The data situation corresponds to that of Infliximab (Partridge ACR et al. 2018).
      • Azathioprine (e.g. Imurek) 50-150 mg/day in combination with prednisolone (0.3-1.0 mg/kg bw/day).
  • In case of superinfection, antibiotics after antibioogram.

Operative therapie
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If necessary, excision and plastic covering of the defect after the acute progression of the process could be stopped by the internal therapy modalities.

Cave! Surgical intervention in the acute stage is contraindicated.

Progression/forecast
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Chronic progressive course. Spontaneous healings are rather rare. Recurrences are more frequent. Depending on the underlying disease, one has to be prepared for a course of the disease lasting for years.

Naturopathy
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Naturopathic therapy approaches are of no importance.

Case report(s)
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Medical history: The 68-year-old patient with a history of untreated hepatitis C presented with an approximately 3.0 x 4.0 cm large, purulent, painful and therapy-resistant ulcer of the left lower leg. The ulcer had formed 4 weeks earlier after a banal trauma and deteriorated rapidly in the meantime.

Clin: The circine, blurred, almost lobed border with a marginal livid erythema strip about 1.0 cm in size was conspicuous.

Laboratory: Genotypic virus determination revealed the detection of HCV, genotype 1A, with a high viral load. Furthermore a cryoglobulinemia was detected.
Detection of an IL26B receptor polymorphism; GOT: 120U/l, GPT: 90U/l, gamma GT: 160U/l
Histopathology (ulcer margin): non-specific neutrophil dermatitis, no evidence of vasculitis.
Therapy: antiviral combination therapy with Ledipasvir/Sofosbuvir and prednisolon course
: complete (!) healing of the ulcer within 6 weeks. The viral load was no longer detectable at this time.

Literature
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  2. Antonelli E et al (2021) Dermatological manifestations in inflammatory bowel diseases. J Clin Med 10:364.
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  4. Barrick CJ et al (2019) Necrobiosis lipoidica with superimposed pyoderma vegetans. Cutis 103:44-45.
  5. Bianchi L et al (2001) Pyoderma vegetans and ulcerative colitis. Br J Dermatol 144:1224-1247.
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