Subcutaneous fat necrosis/panniculitis and polyarthritis associated with acinar cell carcinoma of the pancreas: a rare presentation of pancreatitis, panniculitis and polyarthritis syndrome

J Drugs Dermatol. 2010 Sep;9(9):1145-50.


An 82-year-old man presented with a two-week history of three painful, inflamed nodules on his lower extremities with symmetric arthritis of multiple joints. He was under the care of hospice for end-stage acinar cell carcinoma of the pancreas. His serum amylase and lipase levels were markedly elevated. An incisional biopsy revealed lobular inflammation of subcutaneous fat, focal fat necrosis with saponification/ghost cells and scattered foreign-body type giant cells consistent with pancreatic fat necrosis/pancreatic panniculitis. This is hypothesized to be initiated by autodigestion of subcutaneous fat secondary to systemic spillage of excess digestive pancreatic enzymes. Enzymes such as amylase, lipase and trypsin are increased in the bloodstream and can affect remote tissues, such as the subcutaneous fat and articular surfaces of joints. This report, along with the patient's clinical findings, was consistent with PPP syndrome: pancreatic disease, polyarthritis and panniculitis. Although the pancreatic disease of PPP syndrome usually includes pancreatitis, this case represents a report of polyarthritis and panniculitis occurring in the presence of pancreatic carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis / complications
  • Arthritis / pathology*
  • Biopsy
  • Carcinoma, Acinar Cell / complications*
  • Carcinoma, Acinar Cell / pathology
  • Hospices
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Necrosis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatitis / complications*
  • Pancreatitis / pathology
  • Panniculitis / complications
  • Panniculitis / pathology*
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Subcutaneous Fat / pathology*