Acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis (Sweet’s syndrome) with nodular episcleritis and polyneuropathy

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A 56-year-old Japanese housewife presented with multiple erythematous lesions in association with ocular hyperemia and pain in the right upper and lower extremities, including the hands and feet. These symptoms were preceded by a sore throat with persistent fever higher than 38.5 °C for about 1 week.Dermatologic examination showed tender, dull-red, erythematous lesions, measuring 1–2 cm in diameter, located predominantly on the forehead, cheeks, auricular region, neck, forearm, hands, and feet. A biopsy specimen obtained from an erythematous lesion on the right forearm revealed prominent edema in the papillary dermis and remarkable inflammatory cell infiltration throughout the entire dermis (Fig. 1). The infiltrate predominantly consisted of neutrophils and nuclear dust without signs of vasculitis. In routine examination, the leukocyte count was 15,000/mL (normal range, 4000–8000/mL) with severe neutrophilia (80%). The C-reactive protein (CRP) level was 17.65 mg/dL (normal range, < 0.5 mg/dL) and the anti-streptolysin (ASLO) level was 611 IU/mL (normal range, < 166 IU/mL). In human leukocyte antigen (HLA) testing, HLA-A2, -B39, -B35, -Cw2, and -Cw7 were positive, and HLA-B51, -B54, and -Cw1 were negative.Ocular hyperemia was caused by episcleritis forming a nodule and surrounding congestion of the superficial episcleritic vessels at the central portion of the sclera (Fig. 2). The patient suffered from pain once an hour, continuing for about 3 min, at the lateral portion of the right upper and lower extremities, as well as the right small finger. Neurologic examination demonstrated moderate or slight muscle weakness in the extremities. Hand grasping powers were 9 and 7 kg on the right and left, respectively. The patient was right-handed. Dysesthesia and paresthesia were also observed on the hands and feet. The deep tendon reflexes were preserved, however, even in the distal portion of the upper and lower limbs. In addition, essential tremor localized to the neck was recognized. Magnetic resonance imaging did not show any episodes of transient abnormal signal intensity in the central nervous system.The patient was treated with prednisolone (initial dose of 30 mg/day) and intravenous injection of cefazolin sodium (2 g/day for 5 days). Almost complete regression of the ocular and neurologic manifestations, as well as the skin lesions, was achieved in 2 weeks. Prednisolone was reduced gradually and suspended after 4 weeks. Leukocyte and neutrophil counts, CRP, and ASO returned to normal on suspension of therapy. Slight paresthesia remained in the right small finger even after stopping steroid. There was no recurrence at follow-up 6 months later.

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