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Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 May;96(5):1627-30.

Demonstration of varicella-zoster virus infection in the muscularis propria and myenteric plexi of the colon in an HIV-positive patient with herpes zoster and small bowel pseudo-obstruction (Ogilvie's syndrome).

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Department of Pathology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 19104, USA.


Gastrointestinal symptomatology as a complication of herpes zoster (HZ) is extremely rare, with the majority of reported cases showing only temporal or radiological evidence of GI tract involvement by varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection. We present the first case of documented direct VZV infection in the muscularis propria of the gut presenting as intestinal pseudo-obstruction (Ogilvie's syndrome). The patient was a 34-yr-old HIV+ man who developed small bowel pseudo-obstruction in association with disseminated cutaneous HZ. A partial ileocolectomy specimen demonstrated a focal ulcer in the terminal ileum. Immunohistochemistry against VZV gpI demonstrated diffuse staining of the muscularis propria and myenteric plexi throughout the length of the specimen. Viral particles consistent with Herpesviridae were shown to be present ultrastructurally. We postulate that the viral infection in the neuronal plexi and muscularis propria caused muscle injury leading to pseudo-obstruction.

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