Gastrointestinal Involvement in Dermatomyositis

Albert Selva O'Callaghan, Ana Matas-Garcia, José César Milisenda, Gerard Espinosa, Miriam Cuatrecasas, Josep María Grau, Sergio Prieto-González

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Dermatomyositis is a systemic vasculopathy mainly affecting skin, muscle and lung, but may affect the gastrointestinal tract. We aim to describe clinical characteristics of patients with severe gastrointestinal involvement related to dermatomyositis in our center and medical literature. We retrospectively analysed these patients in our center, including cases of erosions/ulcers, perforation or digestive bleeding. Reported cases from April 1990 to April 2021 were reviewed through PubMed and Cochrane. From our cohort (n = 188), only 3 presented gastrointestinal compromise. All were women (10, 46 and 68 years). The initial symptom was abdominal pain and all had ≥2 episodes of digestive bleeding. All died due to complications of gastrointestinal involvement. Available pathological samples showed vascular ectasia. From the literature review (n = 50), 77% were women with a mean age of 49 years and the main symptom was abdominal pain (65%). All presented active muscular and cutaneous involvement at complication diagnosis. Mortality was 41.7%. The underlying lesion was perforation or ulcer (n = 22), intestinal wall thickening (n = 2), macroscopic inflammation (n = 2) or intestinal pneumatosis (n = 15). In 13 cases, vasculitis was described. Gastrointestinal involvement in dermatomyositis denotes severity, so an early intensive treatment is recommended. Pathological findings suggest that the underlying pathophysiological mechanism is a vasculopathy and not a true vasculitis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Dermatomyositis
  • Gastrointestinal involvement
  • Gastrointestinal perforation
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Intestinal pneumatosis


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