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Unusual presentation of Crohn’s disease


A previously well 37-year-old woman attended the emergency assessment unit with symptoms of lethargy, breathlessness and peripheral oedema, whereby initial basic investigations revealed an iron deficiency anaemia and serum hypoalbuminaemia. The patient subsequently had multiple admissions to secondary care over a 2-year period due to worsening peripheral and central oedema. Investigations ruled out non-gastrointestinal causes of serum hypoalbuminaemia, such as renal, cardiac and hepatic failures. Gastrointestinal investigations later revealed raised faecal alpha-1 antitrypsin and small bowel ulceration on capsule endoscopy, with a histological diagnosis of Crohn’s disease made after a small bowel wedge resection. This case describes the unusual presentation of Crohn’s disease displaying symptoms primarily of protein-losing enteropathy, an uncommon and under-recognised consequence of inflammatory bowel disease. A review of current literature and the underlying pathophysiology for this rare condition are discussed, particularly in relation to Crohn’s disease.

  • endoscopy
  • Crohn's disease
  • small intestine

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