Isolated pulmonary veno-occlusive disease and pulmonary arterial thrombosis in systemic sclerosis – a lethal combination
General Medicine, Ipswich NHS Hospital, UK
Background: Isolated pulmonary hypertension secondary to systemic sclerosis is not uncommon. Our patient with systemic sclerosis presented with a very aggressive form of pulmonary hypertension due to a lethal combination of pulmonary veno-occlusive disease (PVOD) and pulmonary arterial thrombosis. This combined presentation has never before been reported in medical literature.
Case report: A 75-year-old woman with a 4-month history of atypical chest pains was admitted with a 3-week history of worsening symptoms of shortness of breath, reduced exercise tolerance, and bilateral pitting edema. On examination she had thickened skin in her hands, telangiectasia on her face, maculopapular rash in her legs, raised jugular venous pressure, and bilateral pitting edema. Her autoimmune profile revealed positive anticentromere antibodies, and her echocardiogram showed right ventricular systolic pressure of 91 mmHg. She also had renal impairment secondary to hypoperfusion. A diagnosis of isolated pulmonary hypertension secondary to limited systemic sclerosis was made. As she was clinically improving on slow diuretic infusion and awaiting transfer to a specialist center for management of pulmonary hypertension, our patient died due to cardiopulmonary arrest. Her postmortem revealed that she died of a combination of PVOD and pulmonary arteriopathy due to thrombosis.
Conclusion: This is clearly a unique case both in presentation and difficulty of management. Pulmonary vasodilators used in therapy of pulmonary arteriopathy can be detrimental in patients with PVOD. There is no definitive investigation, curative treatment, or management, that exists for a combination of PVOD and pulmonary arteriopathy due to thrombosis secondary to systemic sclerosis.
Keywords: pulmonary veno-occlusive disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension, systemic sclerosis, pulmonary arteriopathy with thrombosis
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