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J Autoimmun. 2009 May-Jun;32(3-4):240-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2009.02.008. Epub 2009 Mar 26.

Catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome (CAPS): descriptive analysis of a series of 280 patients from the "CAPS Registry".

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Department of Autoimmune Diseases, Institut Clínic de Medicina i Dermatologia, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.



To describe the clinical and laboratory features, as well as the precipitating factors, treatment and outcome of patients with catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome (APS).


We analyzed the 280 patients included until September 2008 in the website based international registry of patients with catastrophic APS ("CAPS Registry") (


The entire series includes 201 (72%) female and 79 (28%) male patients with a mean age of 37 +/- 14 years (range, 11-60 years). A total of 129 (46%) patients suffered from primary APS, 112 (40%) from systemic lupus erythematosus, 14 (5%) from lupus-like disease, and 25 (9%) from other autoimmune diseases. The catastrophic episode was the first manifestation of the APS in 129 (46%) patients. A precipitating factor was reported in 53% of the patients. The first clinical manifestation at the time of the catastrophic episode was a pulmonary complication in 24% of the cases, a neurologic feature in 18% and a renal feature in 18%. During the catastrophic episode, intraabdominal involvement was identified in the majority of patients, mainly consisting of renal (71%), hepatic (33%), gastrointestinal (25%), splenic (19%), adrenal (13%), and pancreatic (8%) manifestations. 123 (44%) patients died at the time of the catastrophic APS event but the higher recovery rate was achieved by the combination of anticoagulants plus corticosteroids plus plasma exchange (PE) and/or intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) (69% versus 54%).


The catastrophic APS is an uncommon but potentially life-threatening condition that needs high clinical awareness. The therapeutical connotation is that this may be corrected with the combination of anticoagulation plus steroids plus attempts at achieving a prompt reduction of antiphospholipid antibody titer (i.e. PE and/or IVIG).

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