What are the GI symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)?

Updated: Aug 04, 2021
  • Author: Christie M Bartels, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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In general, gastrointestinal symptoms secondary to SLE are less common than adverse effects of medication or nonspecific complaints. Special consideration should be given to infectious causes (bacterial, viral [eg, CMV]), because of immunosuppression. Nausea and dyspepsia are common symptoms in patients with active SLE and are sometimes difficult to correlate with objective evidence of gastrointestinal involvement. Peptic ulcer disease is a common complication, especially in SLE patients treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) and glucocorticoids. [92]

Occasionally, abdominal pain in active SLE may be directly related to active lupus, including peritonitis, pancreatitis, mesenteric vasculitis, and bowel infarction. Rarely, lupus enteritis may be the initial manifestation of SLE. Abdominal ultrasound can be a reliable first-line diagnostic tool in lupus enteritis, aiding early diagnosis of potentially life-threatening complications. [93] Jaundice due to autoimmune hepatobiliary disease may also occur.

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