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Painless massive ascites and hypoalbuminemia as the major manifestations of systemic lupus erythematosus

Yu-Te Chu, Shyh-Shin Chiou
Department of Pediatrics, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Received: February 1, 2005 Revised: September 16, 2005 Accepted: October 30, 2005

Corresponding author: Shyh-Shin Chiou, Department of Pediatrics, Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, 100 Shih-Chuan 1st Road, Kaohsiung, Taiwan. E-mail:

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is frequently associated with ascites, but rarely without proteinuria. We report a 10-year-old girl with distended, non-tender abdomen with shifting dullness and no pitting edema in the lower legs before admission. Facial rash had appeared 1-2 weeks before admission and became more prominent 3 days prior to admission. Hypoalbuminemia with hypertriglycemia (but no proteinuria or diarrhea) was noticed. The antinuclear antibody titer was 1:2560 (speckle type) and the anti-double-stranded DNA was 1:160. Abdominal echo revealed no cirrhosis change or venous obstruction. Chest X-ray and electrocardiogram revealed no cardiomegaly or pericardial effusion. The serum prealbumin was low on admission day 5, but the liver function tests were within normal range. We deduced that the hypoalbuminemia in SLE without nephritis may be secondary to mesenteric vascular leakage. SLE may present with initial manifestation of painless massive ascites. Careful utilization of history taking, chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, cardiac and abdominal echo, urinary analysis and serum prealbumin is helpful in decision-making while assessing such patients.

Key words: Ascites, hypoalbuminemia, mesentery, systemic lupus erythematosus, vasculitis

J Microbiol Immunol Infect 2006;39:78-81.

[Full Article in PDF]

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