Type IV Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: A Surgical Emergency? A Case of Massive Retroperitoneal Hemorrhage

The Open Cardiovascular Medicine Journal 23 Sept 2011 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874192401105010210


Retroperitoneal hemorrhagic bleeding is a known manifestation of Type-IV Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome that is caused by loss-of-function mutations of the pro-alpha-1 chains of type III pro-collagen (COL3A1) resulting in vascular fragility. A number of previous reports describe futile surgical intervention for retroperitoneal bleeding in Type-IV Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome with high post-operative mortality, although the rarity of retroperitoneal bleeding associated with Type-IV Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome precludes an evidence-based approach to clinical management. We report a 23-year-old male with history of Type-IV Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome who presented with severe abdominal pain and tachycardia following an episode of vomiting. Further work-up of his abdominal pain revealed massive retroperitoneal bleeding by CT-scan of the abdomen. Given numerous cases of catastrophic injury caused by surgical intervention in Type-IV Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, the patient was treated non-operatively, and the patient made a full recovery. This case suggests that even in cases of large retroperitoneal hemorrhages associated with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, it may not truly represent a surgical emergency.

Keywords: Type-IV Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, retroperitoneal hemorrhage, conservative management, non-operative, COL3A1, connective tissue disorder..
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