Diabetic thigh muscle infarction in association with antiphospholipid antibodies

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Feb;30(4):272-80. doi: 10.1053/sarh.2001.19961.


Background: Diabetic muscle infarction (DMI) is a rare complication of type 1 diabetes mellitus. DMI has a stereotyped clinical presentation and characteristic, though nonspecific, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and histologic findings. The etiology, however, remains controversial.

Objectives: To present the first reported cases of DMI in association with positive antiphospholipid (aPL) antibody titers and to discuss the etiologic and pathogenic significance of the association between type 1 diabetes and aPL antibodies.

Methods: Descriptive case reports of 2 patients with DMI and positive aPL antibodies and a review of the relevant literature.

Results: Our 2 patients with DMI are female type-1 diabetics with end-organ microvascular complications who presented with an abrupt, painful swelling or mass of the thigh musculature. The diagnosis of DMI was based on the clinical picture and the findings on T2-weighted MRI and histologic evaluation. The first patient had a long history of known aPL antibodies in the setting of systemic lupus erythematosus. The second patient was only determined to be aPL positive after her recurrent episodes of DMI. The first patient was treated with anticoagulation and corticosteroids with relatively rapid resolution of symptoms. The second patient was treated with local d├ębridement and supportive care with a resulting course of prolonged symptoms and recurrences. There are no controlled trials of the treatment of DMI. In the literature there is evidence for an increased prevalence of aPL antibodies in type 1 diabetic patients. The pathogenesis of DMI is poorly understood, but the hypercoagulable state often associated with aPL antibodies may play an important role.

Conclusions/relevance: aPL antibodies may be involved in the pathogenesis of diabetic muscle infarction and could serve as an important target of therapeutic intervention, namely with anticoagulation.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid / blood*
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Debridement
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / pathology
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / blood
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / complications*
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / drug therapy
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / pathology
  • Female
  • Heparin / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infarction / blood
  • Infarction / etiology*
  • Infarction / pathology
  • Infarction / therapy
  • Leg
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / blood supply*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology


  • Antibodies, Antiphospholipid
  • Anticoagulants
  • Heparin