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Chapter: Medicine and surgery: Musculoskeletal system

Antiphospholipid syndrome - Connective tissue disorders

A disorder characterised by the presence of autoantibodies directed against phospholipids or plasma proteins bound to phospholipids. - Definition, Incidence, Age, Sex, Aetiology, Pathophysiology, Clinical features, Complications, Investigations, Management, Prognosis.

Antiphospholipid syndrome

 

Definition

 

A disorder characterised by the presence of autoantibodies directed against phospholipids or plasma proteins bound to phospholipids.

 

Aetiology/pathophysiology

 

Antiphospholipid syndrome may be primary/idiopathic or may occur secondary to SLE or other autoimmune disorders. The condition causes a thrombotic tendency due to loss of phospholipid dependent coagulation cofactors. Prothrombotic stimuli such as pregnancy, surgery, cigarette smoking, hypertension and the use of oral contraceptives further exacerbate this tendency. Antibodies include the lupus anti-coagulant (anti-coagulant in vitro but procoagulant in vivo), anti β2 glycoprotein-I antibodies and anticardiolipin antibodies.

Clinical features

 

Thrombosis: Venous thromboses are more common than arterial thromboses. These occur mainly in the deep veins of the calf. Other sites include renal, hepatic, subclavian and retinal veins. Arterial thrombosis in the cerebral vessels, coronary, renal and mesenteric arteries thromboses may also occur. Clinically patients may present with strokes, migraine, pulmonary embolism and infarction, thrombocytopenia, variable degrees of renal failure and amaurosis fugax.

 

Pregnancy: Some women suffer recurrent miscarriage especially during the late second and third trimester.

 

Non-thrombotic neurological manifestations include epilepsy, transverse myelitis, Guillain–Barre´ syndrome and chorea.

 

Cutaneous manifestations include livedo reticularis (a purplish mottled discolouration of the skin).

 

 

Investigations

 

Diagnosed by presence of anticardiolipin antibodies.

 

 

Management

 

Anticoagulation with aspirin for mild cases and warfarin in more severe cases reduces the risk of thrombosis. During the first and third trimester of pregnancy low-molecular-weight heparin is used due to the teratogenicity of warfarin and risks of bleeding in labour.

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Medicine and surgery: Musculoskeletal system : Antiphospholipid syndrome - Connective tissue disorders |

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