Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): Pathology review


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Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): Pathology review


Pediatric musculoskeletal conditions

Radial head subluxation (Nursemaid elbow)

Developmental dysplasia of the hip

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis

Transient synovitis

Osgood-Schlatter disease (traction apophysitis)

Musculoskeletal injuries and trauma

Rotator cuff tear

Dislocated shoulder

Radial head subluxation (Nursemaid elbow)

Winged scapula

Thoracic outlet syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome

Ulnar claw

Erb-Duchenne palsy

Klumpke paralysis

Iliotibial band syndrome

Unhappy triad

Anterior cruciate ligament injury

Patellar tendon rupture

Meniscus tear

Patellofemoral pain syndrome

Sprained ankle

Achilles tendon rupture



Degenerative disc disease

Spinal disc herniation


Compartment syndrome


Bone disorders

Osteogenesis imperfecta


Pectus excavatum


Genu valgum

Genu varum

Pigeon toe

Flat feet

Club foot

Cleidocranial dysplasia



Bone tumors




Osteomalacia and rickets


Paget disease of bone


Lordosis, kyphosis, and scoliosis

Joint disorders



Spinal stenosis

Rheumatoid arthritis

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis


Calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease (pseudogout)

Psoriatic arthritis

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Baker cyst

Muscular disorders

Muscular dystrophy



Inclusion body myopathy

Polymyalgia rheumatica



Neuromuscular junction disorders

Myasthenia gravis

Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome

Other autoimmune disorders

Sjogren syndrome

Systemic lupus erythematosus

Mixed connective tissue disease

Antiphospholipid syndrome

Raynaud phenomenon


Limited systemic sclerosis (CREST syndrome)

Musculoskeletal system pathology review

Back pain: Pathology review

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis: Pathology review

Seronegative and septic arthritis: Pathology review

Gout and pseudogout: Pathology review

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): Pathology review

Scleroderma: Pathology review

Sjogren syndrome: Pathology review

Bone disorders: Pathology review

Bone tumors: Pathology review

Myalgias and myositis: Pathology review

Neuromuscular junction disorders: Pathology review

Muscular dystrophies and mitochondrial myopathies: Pathology review

Pediatric musculoskeletal disorders: Pathology review


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE): Pathology review

USMLE® Step 1 questions

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USMLE® Step 1 style questions USMLE

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A 38-year-old woman comes to the clinic complaining of pain in her hands for several months. The pain is characterized by an intermittent aching in both of the wrists and the bases of the fingers that lasts for hours at a time. The patient also feels warm at night and has not had much of an appetite recently. The patient’s temperature is 37.6 C (99.6 F), pulse is 77/min, respirations are 14/min, and blood pressure is 145/85 mmHg. Physical examination shows mild symmetric swelling of the wrists, metacarpophalangeal, and proximal interphalangeal joints bilaterally, without tenderness on palpation. There are no skin lesions. Laboratory studies show the following:  
Laboratory value  Result
 Hemoglobin  14.0 g/dL 
 Platelets  100,000/mm3 
 Leukocytes   3,500/mm3 
Further evaluation with urinalysis shows proteinuria and red blood cell casts.    

Which of the following is the most common cause of death in patients with this condition?  


Content Reviewers

Filip Vasiljević, MD

Yifan Xiao, MD

Antonia Syrnioti, MD


Antonella Melani, MD

Evan Debevec-McKenney

Zachary Kevorkian, MSMI

At the internal medicine department, a 42 year old female named Mary shows up. She complains of multiple skin lesions on the arms, chest and back. She reports having these lesions for about 3 months. In the past, she had similar lesions. She reports morning stiffness involving her fingers and knees, as well as a history of multiple miscarriages. Blood tests revealed pancytopenia as well as a very high ESR and CRP. She was positive for ANA and antiphospholipid antibodies.

Meanwhile, at the emergency department, a 25 year old man named Kyle shows up with flank pain and hematuria. He has a history of migratory arthralgias and photosensitivity. He was positive for ANA and double-stranded DNA antibodies, and also had low complement levels. Blood tests revealed very high ESR and CRP, as well as high creatinine, so a urinalysis was performed, showing proteinuria and red blood cell casts.

Both individuals actually have very different presentations of the same disease, called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. This is a systemic, relapsing, and remitting autoimmune disease, where systemic means that essentially any tissue or organ can undergo inflammation; while relapsing and remitting, stands for periods of illness, called relapses or flares; and periods of remission during which there are few or no symptoms.

Now, lupus develops when the person’s immune system starts recognizing nuclear antigens of the body’s own cells as foreign and tries to attack them. Essentially, B cells start producing antibodies which bind to nuclear antigens in our own cells. Normally, these B cells are destroyed before they fully mature in a process called self tolerance, but in people with lupus this process is impaired. The antibodies released by these B cells form antigen-antibody complexes and these complexes drift around in the blood until they deposit or stick to the vessel wall in all sorts of different organs and tissues like the kidneys, skin, joints, heart.



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