Pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) associated with levamisole-adulterated cocaine: Clinical, serologic, and histopathologic findings in a cohort of patients

Haneol S. Jeong, Heather Layher, Lauren Cao, Travis Vandergriff, Arturo R. Dominguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Recently, isolated reports of pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) secondary to levamisole-contaminated cocaine have been described, with similar serologic findings to the vasculopathic presentation. Objective: We sought to describe clinical, histopathological, and serologic findings in 8 patients with PG associated with levamisole-contaminated cocaine. Methods: Eight consecutive patients presenting with this disease spanning the period from 2011 to 2015 were included for the cohort. Observed variables included: lesion distribution, morphology, serologic titers, and histopathologic evaluation for vasculitis and vasculopathy. Results: All patients reported cocaine exposure prior to the onset of lesions resembling PG. Lesions appeared primarily on the upper (6 of 8 patients) and lower (all 8 patients) extremities. Most patients demonstrated elevated titers for antiphospholipid antibodies, and a diffuse dermal infiltrate dominated by neutrophils was seen in all biopsy specimens. Lesions improved or remained stable with conservative management or short courses of steroids, and recurrence was only noted on re-exposure to adulterated cocaine. Limitations: The study is limited by sample size. Conclusions: PG may occur after exposure to levamisole-adulterated cocaine. Clinical and histopathological findings resemble those seen in conventional forms of PG, whereas serologic findings mirror those seen in other levamisole-associated vasculopathic or vasculitic eruptions. Cocaine avoidance represents a cornerstone of management in these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2015

Keywords

  • Cocaine
  • Dermatosis
  • Immunologic markers
  • Levamisole
  • Pyoderma gangrenosum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology

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