Importance: Pyoderma gangrenosum is a rare inflammatory skin condition that is difficult to diagnose. Currently, it is a "diagnosis of exclusion," a definition not compatible with clinical decision making or inclusion for clinical trials.
Objective: To propose and validate diagnostic criteria for ulcerative pyoderma gangrenosum.
Evidence review: Diagnostic criteria were created following a Delphi consensus exercise using the RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method. The criteria were validated against peer-reviewed established cases of pyoderma gangrenosum and mimickers using k-fold cross-validation with methods of multiple imputation.
Findings: Delphi exercise yielded 1 major criterion-biopsy of ulcer edge demonstrating neutrophilic infiltrate-and 8 minor criteria: (1) exclusion of infection; (2) pathergy; (3) history of inflammatory bowel disease or inflammatory arthritis; (4) history of papule, pustule, or vesicle ulcerating within 4 days of appearing; (5) peripheral erythema, undermining border, and tenderness at ulceration site; (6) multiple ulcerations, at least 1 on an anterior lower leg; (7) cribriform or "wrinkled paper" scar(s) at healed ulcer sites; and (8) decreased ulcer size within 1 month of initiating immunosuppressive medication(s). Receiver operating characteristic analysis revealed that 4 of 8 minor criteria maximized discrimination, yielding sensitivity and specificity of 86% and 90%, respectively.
Conclusions and relevance: This Delphi exercise produced 1 major criterion and 8 minor criteria for the diagnosis of ulcerative pyoderma gangrenosum. The criteria may serve as a guideline for clinicians, allowing for fewer misdiagnoses and improved patient selection for clinical trials.