Degos' Disease: A Distinctive Pattern of Disease, Chiefly of Lupus Erythematosus, And Not a Specific Disease per se


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Abstract

Degos' disease, known confusingly as malignant strophic papularis, is an uncommon condition of unknown cause characterized by distinctive infarctive lesions in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and central nervous system; the lesions at the two latter sites often result in death. We deem Degos' disease to be analogous to lupus erythematosus in the sense that each is fundamentally a systemic pathologic process involving several organs, among them the skin, but, moreover, we regard Degos' disease, in most instances, to be an actual manifestation of lupus erythematosus. Histopathologically, the findings in sections of tissue of skin lesions of Degos' disease are indistinguishable from those of one expression of cutaneous lupus erythematosus; immunopathologically, some patients with morphologic findings stereotypical of Degos' disease display signs characteristic of lupus erythematosus. For these reasons, we consider Degos' disease to be a distinctive pattern of disease, rather than a specific disease per se, just as are erythema multiforme, erythema nodosum, leukocytoclastic vasculitis, Sweet's syndrome, and pyoderma gangrenosum, to name but five of scores of them. The singular pattern that is designated Degos' disease usually is an expression of lupus erythematosus, but, episodically, of conditions like dermatomyositis and rheumatoid arthritis.

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