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J Rheumatol. 1991 May;18(5):721-7.

Rheumatic manifestations in myelodysplastic syndromes.

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Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905.


The myelodysplastic syndromes are characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis with possible transformation to acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. We describe a patient with refractory anemia with excess blasts with unusual rheumatic manifestations of vasculitis, migratory synovitis, arthralgias, and myalgias. A retrospective review over a 6-month period of 162 patients with myelodysplastic syndromes found 16 patients (10%) with several rheumatic manifestations. We divided these manifestations into 4 different categories: cutaneous vasculitis, "lupus-like syndrome," neuropathy, and patients with both a rheumatic disease and a myelodysplastic syndrome. There were 7 with cutaneous vasculitis including leukocytoclastic vasculitis and other individual cases of urticarial vasculitis and panniculitis; 3 with lupus-like manifestations with histological evidence of an inflammatory process; 3 with neuropathic manifestations including peripheral neuropathy, mononeuritis with foot drop, and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy; and 3 patients in which their myelodysplastic syndrome was diagnosed after their rheumatic disease was known, including rheumatoid arthritis. Sjögren's syndrome and mixed connective tissue disease. The class with refractory anemia with excess blasts had 9 patients with rheumatic manifestations but also had the largest number of patients in the study (46/162 or 29%). Three of the 16 patients died, all from the refractory anemia with excess blasts class, reflecting the known mortality in this group of patients. We believe there is a significant association between myelodysplastic syndromes and rheumatic manifestations.

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