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Dermatomyositis (DM) is an inflammatory myopathy characterized by proximal muscle weakness and pathognomonic skin lesions. A 69-year-old woman with a recent diagnosis of DM one month prior, treated with corticosteroids and immunomodulators, presented to our inpatient rehabilitation with worsening dysphagia and constipation. At the time of our evaluation, physical examination was notable for erythematous papules over the MCPs, PIPs, elbows, and knees as well as a violaceous rash on the face. Muscle strength was diminished bilaterally with proximal distribution being affected greater than distal. Laboratory studies were notable for CK level 31 IU/ L, ANA by immunofluorescence of 1:80, and aldolase 4 u/L. The eleven-antibody myositis panel was negative. Skeletal muscle biopsy of the left thigh showed partially treated acquired inflammatory myopathy with perifascicular atrophy. During hospitalization, she was found to have pulmonary embolism. She received enoxaparin 1 mg/kg subcutaneous BID. Soon after, she developed rectal bleeding. Colonoscopy showed a stercoral ulcer caused by chronic constipation. While dysphagia is common, being present in 25-50% of patients with DM, lower gastrointestinal problems involving the small and large intestine are rare and typically present as a late manifestation of the disease. Decreased peristalsis in the large colon can lead to constipation, impaction, and subsequent mucosal ulceration, and pressure necrosis induced by fecaloma formation. Although rare, our case highlights the importance of recognizing gastrointestinal complications that dermatomyositis can cause and the effects that those complications have on morbidity and mortality.


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Publication Title

Modern Rheumatology



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Mentor/PI Department

Internal Medicine

Available for download on Tuesday, November 01, 2022

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