Fifteen (11 percent) of 140 patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and five (31 percent) of 16 patients with polyarteritis nodosa (PA) developed disease-related signs and symptoms of an acute surgical abdomen. Peripheral vasculitis (p < 0.025), nervous system involvement (p < 0.05), ischemic necrosis of bone (p < 0.05), thrombocytopenia (p < 0.01), and circulating rheumatoid factor (p < 0.01) are all significantly more prevalent in patients with SLE and abdominal involvement compared with those without an abdominal syndrome. Similarly, except for ischemic necrosis of bone, these same features are more prevalent in patients with PA and acute abdomens. Eleven (73 percent) of 15 patients with SLE had exploratory laparotomy for acute abdominal events. Nine were found to have evidence of intra-abdominal arterttis and only two had polyserositis without gross evidence of vasculitis. Eight (53 percent) of the 15 patients with SLE and acute abdomens died as a result of their abdominal crises. Six of the seven surviving patients represent those most recently seen and aggressively treated. All five patients with PA and acute abdomens required operative intervention and all had gross evidence of mesenterlc arterttis with large ischemic segments resulting in infarction and perforation. All died in contrast to only two (18 percent) of the 11 PA patients without abdominal involvement.
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