Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 42-43  

Postoperative pyoderma gangrenosum: A rare complication after appendectomy

G Faghihi, B Abtahi-Naeini, Z Nikyar, K Jamshidi, A Bahrami 
 Department of Dermatology, Skin Diseases and Leishmaniasis Research Center, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

Correspondence Address:
Dr. B Abtahi-Naeini
Department of Dermatology, Skin Diseases and Leishmaniasis Research Center, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan


Pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) is an uncommon inflammatory ulcerative skin disease. It is characterized by painful progressive necrosis of the wound margins. Rarely, postoperative pyoderma gangrenosum (PPG) manifests as a severe disturbance of wound healing following surgical interventions. Only rare cases of this complication have been reported after appendectomy. We report a case of PPG in a 29-year-old female after appendectomy. She was successfully treated with oral prednisolone. Postoperative pyoderma gangrenosum should be kept in mind in the differential diagnosis of any postoperative delayed wound healing, because this disease is simply distinguished from a postoperative wound.

How to cite this article:
Faghihi G, Abtahi-Naeini B, Nikyar Z, Jamshidi K, Bahrami A. Postoperative pyoderma gangrenosum: A rare complication after appendectomy.J Postgrad Med 2015;61:42-43

How to cite this URL:
Faghihi G, Abtahi-Naeini B, Nikyar Z, Jamshidi K, Bahrami A. Postoperative pyoderma gangrenosum: A rare complication after appendectomy. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Nov 28 ];61:42-43
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Full Text


Pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) is a rare inflammatory skin disease of unknown cause. Lesions typically begin as pustules, nodules, or bullae that rapidly evolve into shallow or deep ulcers with ragged, undermined, violaceous, or gunmetal-colored borders. Clinically, the patient has classically high fever and severe local pain. [1] The disease may show two patterns an acute course and a slow indolent one. [2] Postoperative pyoderma gangrenosum (PPG) is an unusual clinical entity with rapidly progressive skin necrosis that can occur after any surgical procedure. [3],[4] It is important for surgeons, internists, and dermatologists to be familiar with this entity, as a delay in diagnosis and management can be life-threatening and lead to considerable tissue loss. [3] We report the case of a young female in whom PG developed after an uncomplicated appendectomy; we then discuss the nature and method of diagnosis in this case.

 Case Report

A 29-year-old previously healthy female, presented with fever, chills, and dehiscence of the surgical wound (a well defined lesion with raised edges and an irregular base) following an apparently uncomplicated appendectomy. She suffered from an acute attack of appendicitis two weeks prior to presenting to us. She had no history of previous illness such as inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, or hematological diseases. The patient was treated with systemic antimicrobial treatment following diagnosis of surgical wound infection. Despite the local wound care, parenteral antibiotic treatment and repeated surgical debridement, there was no improvement and there was rapid worsening and extension of the lesion. Blood and wound cultures, were negative for any pathogens. A skin biopsy after a dermatological referral confirmed the diagnosis [Figure 1]. It revealed the presence of intense neutrophilic infiltrates consistent with PG without any evidence of infection [Figure 2]. Treatment with oral prednisolone (50 mg /day) was immediately initiated. She was successfully treated with this regimen and her symptoms dramatically responded after a fortnight of steroid therapy. She was discharged on Day 14 in good general condition while tapering off the steroids, under supervision of dermatological service, and was freed from medication after 6 weeks. The wound healed completely with a fine atrophic scarring. {Figure 1}{Figure 2}


Between 50% and 70% of the cases of PG are associated with other diseases, the most frequent being inflammatory bowel disease. Other associated diseases include arthritis and hematologic disorders. [5]

PG can appear spontaneously or as a result of the pathergy phenomenon after trauma or surgery. [4],[6] Many patients can relate the development of the skin lesions to recent trauma to the affected area, a phenomenon known as pathergy. Based on pathergy, it has been suggested that minor trauma to the skin may initiate the development of PG. [7] Postoperative PPG represents a specific entity; it shares some clinical aspects of PG, but has a series of its own features. The onset of PPG follows a sequence. After an apparently normal evolution of scar formation following a surgical procedure, the scar presents with small foci of dehiscence, which will progressively coalesce to some larger areas of wound ulceration. [8] The delay between surgery and the beginning of symptoms is variable, from 4 days to 6 weeks. The skin ulcerations become larger, despite any local treatment or antibiotics and debridement. [8] PG has been reported in case reports and case series. The delay in diagnosis likely accounts for the high mortality. [9]

In the majority of cases it is misdiagnosed as severe wound infection leading to improper debridement and thus exacerbating the problem, [5],[10] as was the case of our patient. Failing to consider postoperative pathergy, which is likely to occur in previously undiagnosed cases of PG, usually leads to debridement that worsens the lesions. [1] Long et al. recommend subcuticular sutures in order to minimize the risk of PPG; as this method avoids puncturing the skin surface [11] and we recommend the same as these are inexpensive.


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