Photo Rounds

Ulcers on lower leg

A 32-year-old man presented to his family physician (FP) with nonhealing ulcers on his lower leg that had developed over the past year. He stated that the ulcers appeared after he hit his leg against the corner of his bed. The leg ulcers were tender, but he was able to tolerate the dull pain. He was being followed by Gastroenterology for his Crohn's disease, which was under control.

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Ulcers on lower leg

The FP recognized this as classic pyoderma gangrenosum (PG)—a challenging condition to treat and not within the typical scope of practice for an FP. Nonhealing, well-defined leg ulcers in a person with Crohn's disease (or any type of inflammatory bowel disease) are often seen with PG. Pathergy—the development of an exaggerated injury following minor trauma—is known to occur with PG.

The FP also noted the violet-blue coloration around the borders of the ulcers, which is referred to as a “gun-metal border.” He considered doing a biopsy on the edge of the ulcer to rule out other conditions and to see if there was a neutrophilic infiltrate that is typically seen with PG. However, the FP realized that pathergy could be stimulated by a biopsy, so he decided to refer the patient to Dermatology.

Knowing that the patient might have to wait a few months to see a dermatologist, the FP consulted online sources and prescribed topical clobetasol ointment to be applied twice daily as an initial therapy. This was not successful, so after a phone consult with the dermatologist, the FP added oral prednisone 40 mg/d for the next 2 weeks until the dermatologist could see the patient.

Photos and text for Photo Rounds Friday courtesy of Richard P. Usatine, MD. This case was adapted from: Mayeaux, EJ, Usatine R. Pyoderma gangrenosum. In: Usatine R, Smith M, Mayeaux EJ, et al. Color Atlas and Synopsis of Family Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2019:1147-1152.

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