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Lupus. 1995 Feb;4(1):33-7.

Appearance of systemic lupus erythematosus after thymectomy: four case reports and review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, Israel.


The appearance of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) after thymectomy (or thymomectomy) is presented in four patients together with a comparative review of additional reports found in a Medline search for the years 1966-94 in the English and French literature. Fourteen women and two men of average age of 39 years (range 11-66 years) at presentation, developed SLE after thymectomy (11 patients) or thymomectomy (five patients). Half developed SLE within 3 years after surgery (range 3 months to 18 years). The most common SLE manifestation was polyarthritis occurring in 15 of 16 patients either at presentation or during the first year. Other frequent manifestations included skin rashes, fever, cytopenias and pleuritis. Two rare manifestations of SLE, optic neuritis and transverse myelitis, were reported in two patients. Thymic hormone activity was measured in one patient and was undetectable compared with normal controls. HLA studies in eight patients showed the combination of A1, B8 in four. In conclusion, the appearance of SLE after thymectomy or thymomectomy appears to be more than a coincidence. It may provide insights into the pathogenesis of SLE.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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