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Thoracolumbar compression fractures presenting with an acute ileus.

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  • Medicine


Corticosteroids are commonly used in the treatment of connective tissue diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus. Although they are usually efficacious, osteoporosis leading to spine compression fractures is not uncommon. In this case report, we describe an elderly patient with systemic lupus erythematosus on long-term corticosteroid therapy who presented with symptoms of acute abdomen with minimal low back symptoms. No intraabdominal process was found by abdominal studies and exploratory laparotomy. Increased lower back symptoms led to further skeletal spine studies, which initially demonstrated a compression fracture at the twelfth thoracic (T12) vertebra. Later, a T8 and a fourth lumbar (L4) compression fracture were also found. Her abdominal and lower back symptoms resolved on conservative therapy. Although the rate of these occurrences are unknown, compression spine fractures should be considered in elderly patients presenting with acute abdomen after being on long-term corticosteroid therapy. Originally published Journal of the National Medical Association, Vol. 82, No. 9, Sep 1990

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