Sulfasalazine-Induced Delayed Hypersensitivity Reaction Presenting as Fever, Aseptic Meningitis, and Mesenteric Panniculitis in a Patient with Seronegative Arthritis

Tristen Ng, Sue Davel, Kevin O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background:
An 82-year-old woman presented with acute pyrexial illness and mesenteric panniculitis and developed biochemical aseptic meningitis (cerebrospinal fluid pleocytosis with no identifiable pathogen). Investigation determined her illness was likely a delayed hypersensitivity reaction caused by sulfasalazine. Sulfasalazine-induced aseptic meningitis is a rare condition often diagnosed late in a patient’s admission owing to initial non-specific illness symptomatology requiring the exclusion of more common “red flag” etiologies, such as infection and malignancy.

Case Report:
An 82-year-old woman with a history of recurrent urinary tract infections and seronegative arthritis presented with a 3-day history of fatigue, headache, dyspnea, and lassitude. On admission, she was treated as presumed sepsis of uncertain source owing to pyrexia and tachycardia. Brain computer tomography (CT) revealed no acute intracranial abnormality. Furthermore, CT of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis did not reveal any source of sepsis or features of malignancy. After excluding infective etiologies with serological and cerebrospinal fluid testing, sulfasalazine-induced aseptic meningitis (SIAM) was diagnosed. The patient was then commenced on intravenous steroids, resulting in immediate defervescence and symptom resolution.

Conclusions:
SIAM remains a diagnostic challenge since patients present with non-specific signs and symptoms, such as pyrexia, headaches, and lassitude. These patients require a thorough investigative battery starting with anamnesis, physical examination, biochemical testing, and radiologic imaging. This case illustrates the need for a high suspicion index of drug-induced hypersensitivity reaction in a rheumatological patient with pyrexial illness where infective etiologies have been confidently excluded. Prompt initiation of intravenous steroids in SIAM provides a dramatic recovery and resolution of symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere941623
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Case Reports
Volume24
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2023

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Sulfasalazine-Induced Delayed Hypersensitivity Reaction Presenting as Fever, Aseptic Meningitis, and Mesenteric Panniculitis in a Patient with Seronegative Arthritis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this