Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

Dr Gurmeet Mangat
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) - Presentation
The common clinical manifestations are fever, hair loss, oral ulcers and rash on the face. The fever is often high grade and persistent. It may not have a diurnal variation. It is often associated with significant hair fall. This hair fall is spontaneous and is not related to combing. The oral ulcers are recalcitrant and characteristically occur in the hard palate. Rash on the cheeks is typical. This rash worsens on exposure to sunlight. Arthritis can be troublesome.

Although most of the clinical features listed above are important, involvement of the kidney, nervous system, hematological system and cardiac system all carry serious connotations.

When kidney involvement occurs, expert care is needed. Renal involvement often presents with edema and high blood pressure. Examination of the urine and blood confirm that there is inflammation of the kidneys. Ultrasound examination in the early stages reveals enlarged kidneys. Since there are various types of kidney involvement, there often is a need to do a kidney biopsy before proceeding with aggressive therapy. Apart from treatment with appropriate drugs for the disease, optimal control of blood pressure and lipid level is essential.

Nervous system involvement can present with confusion, meningitis, encephalitis, convulsion or stroke. Such children are very sick and need urgent admission. The child may need various investigations including scans of the brain and spinal CSF analysis.

Although anemia is a common manifestation of SLE, severe and rapidly progressive anemia, low white cell count and low platelets all point towards aggressive disease and need aggressive therapy. When these events occur again, the child needs investigations which may include a bone marrow examination.

Inflammation of the different layers of the heart can occur. At times, fluid collection in the outer layer called pericardial effusion can occur. Rarely, increase in pressure of the circulation in the lungs leads to a condition called pulmonary hypertension. When these complications occur, the child needs assessment by an experienced cardiologist.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) 12/10/2001
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