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Arthritis Rheum. 1996 Feb;39(2):341-6.

Gastric antral vascular ectasia (watermelon stomach) in patients with systemic sclerosis.

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Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.


This report describes 5 patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) who developed severe, recurrent upper gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding due to gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE). The clinical records, the endoscopic findings, and the histologic appearance of biopsy specimens and surgically resected gastric tissue from the patients were reviewed. All 5 patients developed severe and recurrent episodes of upper GI bleeding leading to severe anemia requiring multiple transfusions. The cutaneous involvement was diffuse in 3 patients and limited in 2. All but 1 had cutaneous telangiectasias. The diagnosis of GAVE was established by endoscopy within 3 years of the diagnosis of SSc in all cases. One patient required heater probe cautery, 2 required laser coagulation, and 2 underwent surgical resection of the gastric antrum for control of the GI bleeding. The possibility of GAVE should be considered in SSc patients who have recurrent upper GI bleeding. It is suggested that the antral vascular lesions in these patients may represent a component of the spectrum of vascular alterations of SSc.

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