The catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome (CAPS) develops in at least 1% of patients with antiphospholipid syndrome, either primary or associated with systemic lupus erythematosus. CAPS reveals the antiphospholipid syndrome in about 50% of cases. The CAPS is characterized by rapidly-progressive widespread thromboses mainly affecting the microvasculature in the presence of antiphospholipid antibodies. In a few days, the patients develop multiorgan failure with renal insufficiency with severe hypertension, pulmonary, cerebral, cardiac, digestive and/or cutaneous involvement. The vital prognosis is frequently engaged. CAPS is often precipitated by infectious diseases, surgical procedures and/or withdrawal or modification of the anticoagulation. CAPS overall mortality rate has decreased and is currently below 30%. The main differential diagnoses are other thrombotic microangiopathies, and heparin-induced thrombocytopenia. The treatment of CAPS consists of the association of anticoagulation and steroids, plus plasma exchange and/or intravenous immunoglobulins. Cyclophosphamide is added only in patients with active systemic lupus erythematosus. The potential contribution of some additional therapies (rituximab, eculizumab or sirolimus) needs to be assessed. The prevention of CAPS is essential and is based upon the adequate management of the perioperative period when surgery cannot be avoided, the prompt treatment and the prevention with immunization of infections and the education of patients with antiphospholipid syndrome, especially for the management of oral anticoagulants.
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