Abdominal pain in hereditary angioedema: the role of acid hypersecretion


Hereditary angioedema is a familial disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of soft tissue swelling and abdominal pain. Whereas most patients are successfully treated with androgenic steroids, some have abdominal pain unresponsive to therapy. To determine whether acid-peptic disease could account for the abdominal pain unresponsive to androgen therapy, we performed upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and determined basal acid output in 21 consecutive patients with hereditary angioedema and abdominal pain. Mean basal acid output of this group was 6.0 +/- 5.9 mEq/h, with five patients having gastric acid hypersecretion (defined as a basal acid output of greater than 10.0 mEq/h). The abdominal pain in 18 responded to stanozolol, whereas the pain in three patients did not change. Acid-peptic mucosal disease (esophagitis or duodenal ulcer) was present in these three patients with abdominal pain unresponsive to androgen therapy, all of whom had gastric acid hypersecretion (basal acid outputs of 13.7, 19.1, and 21.5 mEq/h, respectively). These three patients were treated with ranitidine but required increased doses to control their gastric acid hypersecretion, and to promote complete relief of abdominal pain and healing of their esophagitis or ulcer disease. These results indicate that there is a subset of patients with hereditary angioedema whose abdominal pain may be secondary to acid-peptic disease and gastric acid hypersecretion. Such individuals may require increased therapeutic doses of antisecretory medication to promote complete healing of esophagitis or ulcer disease. Basal acid output and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy are important determinants when evaluating abdominal pain in patients with hereditary angioedema that fails to respond to standard therapy.

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