Clinical Review

Febrile, Immunocompromised Man With Rash

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  • Conditions associated with increased risk for case disease
  • Outcome for the case patient
  • Differential diagnosis

A 78-year-old white man with chronic lymphocytic leukemia is admitted to the hospital with worsening cough, shortness of breath, and fever. His medical history is significant for pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis jirovecii in the past year. In the weeks preceding hospital admission, the patient developed an erythematous rash over his trunk (see photographs).

During the man’s hospital stay, this eruption becomes increasingly pruritic and spreads to his proximal extremities. His pulmonary symptoms improve slightly following the initiation of broad-spectrum antibiotic therapy (piperacillin/tazobactam and vancomycin), but CT performed one week after admission reveals worsening pulmonary disease (see image). The radiologist’s differential diagnosis includes neoplasm, fungal infection, Kaposi sarcoma, and autoimmune disease.

A. The patient's back shows a distribution of
lesions, with areas of excoriation caused by
B. A close-up reveals erythematous
papules and keratotic papules.

Suspecting that the progressive rash is related to the systemic process, the provider orders a punch biopsy in an effort to reach a diagnosis with minimally invasive studies. When the patient’s clinical status further declines, he undergoes video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery to obtain an excisional biopsy of one of the pulmonary nodules. Subsequent analysis reveals fungal organisms consistent with histoplasmosis. Interestingly, in the histologic review of the skin biopsy, focal acantholytic dyskeratosis—suggestive of Grover disease—is identified.

CT of the chest demonstrates numerous pulmonary nodules, air bronchograms, and reticulonodular infiltrates image

CT of the chest demonstrates numerous pulmonarynodules, air bronchograms, and reticulonodularinfiltrates.

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