Severe abdominal pain as a presenting symptom of probable catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome

Orly Haskin, Jacob Amir, Michael Schwarz, Tommy Schonfeld, Elhanan Nahum, Galina Ling, Dario Prais, Liora Harel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome (APS) in pediatric medicine is rare. We report 3 adolescents who presented with acute onset of severe abdominal pain as the first manifestation of probable catastrophic APS. The 3 patients, 2 male patients and 1 female patient were 14 to 18 years old. One had been diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus in the past, but the other 2 had no previous relevant medical history. All presented with excruciating abdominal pain without additional symptoms. Physical examination was noncontributory. Laboratory results were remarkable for high inflammatory markers. Abdominal ultrasonography was normal, and abdominal computed tomography scan showed nonspecific findings of liver infiltration. Only computed tomography angiography revealed evidence of extensive multiorgan thrombosis. All patients had elevated titers of antiphospholipid antibodies. The patients were treated with full heparinization, high-dose steroids, and intravenous immunoglobulin with a resolution of symptoms. One patient was resistant to the treatment and was treated with rituximab. In conclusion, severe acute abdominal pain can be the first manifestation of a thromboembolic event owing to catastrophic APS even in previously healthy adolescents. Diagnosis requires a high index of suspicion with prompt evaluation and treatment to prevent severe morbidity and mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e230-e235
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal pain
  • Adolescents
  • Catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome


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