Case Report

Asthma Associated with Worsening Leg Ulcer: A Case of Vasculitis in Primary Care

Authors: Beril Cakir, MD, Samuel Cykert, MD


A 71-year-old black woman was admitted to the hospital with a 2-month history of a nonhealing leg ulcer. Her medical history included diabetes mellitus type 2, congestive heart failure, allergic rhinitis, and asthma. The patient's asthma was labile and steroid-dependent until 2 years before admission, at which time zafirlukast therapy was started. On further questioning, the patient revealed a 6-month history of malaise and a 40-lb weight loss. A physical examination showed a 2-cm Stage 3 ulcer on the medial aspect of the right ankle with diminished sensation in both feet and left footdrop. Electromyography revealed mononeuritis multiplex. The patient's white blood cell count was 11,100/mm3 with 60% eosinophils. A sural nerve biopsy showed vasculitis consistent with Churg-Strauss syndrome. One week after prednisone therapy was initiated, the patient's foot strength was nearly normal and her eosinophilia had resolved. Although Churg-Strauss syndrome is a rare disorder, in the setting of asthma and multiple disparate signs and symptoms, the broad diagnostic category of serious vasculitic illness should be considered.

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