Pancreatic involvement in Erdheim-Chester disease: a case report and review of the literature

BMC Gastroenterol. 2022 Jun 21;22(1):302. doi: 10.1186/s12876-022-02378-8.


Background: Erdheim-Chester disease (ECD) is a rare form of non-Langerhans cell histiocytosis characterized by infiltration of lipid-laden foamy macrophages within different tissues. Clinical manifestations of ECD are highly heterogeneous. Bone lesions are found in 80%-95% of patients, while extraosseous lesions usually involve the cardiovascular system, retroperitoneum, central nervous system (CNS), and skin. Pancreatic involvement in ECD has barely been reported.

Case presentation: A 29-year-old female initially presented with menoxenia, diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus. 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography-computed tomography (18F-FDG-PET/CT) revealed hypermetabolic foci in the bilateral frontal lobe, saddle area, and pancreas. A 99mTc-MDP bone scrintigraphy scan revealed symmetrical increased uptake in distal femoral and proximal tibial metaphysis, which was confirmed to be osteosclerosis by high-resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography. The patient underwent incomplete resection of the sellar mass. Histological examination of biopsies showed histiocytic aggregates, which were positive for S100 and negative for CD1a and CD207 on immunohistochemistry. Enhanced abdominal CT scan showed hypointense nodules within the body and tail of the pancreas. Endoscopic ultrasonography guided fine-needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) found no evidence of malignancy. She was diagnosed with ECD and treated with high-dose IFN-α. Repeated examinations at three-and eight-months post treatment revealed markedly reduction of both intracranial and pancreatic lesions.

Conclusions: ECD is a rare histiocytic neoplasm that can involve almost every organ, whereas pancreatic involvement has barely been reported to date. Here, we present the rare case of pancreatic lesions in ECD that responded well to interferon-α. We further reviewed reports of pancreatic involvement in histiocytic disorders and concluded the characteristics of such lesions to help diagnosis and treatment, in which these lesions mimicked pancreatic adenocarcinoma and caused unnecessary invasive surgeries.

Keywords: Case report; Erdheim-Chester disease; Histiocytosis; Interferon; Pancreas; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma*
  • Adult
  • Erdheim-Chester Disease* / diagnostic imaging
  • Erdheim-Chester Disease* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pancreas / diagnostic imaging
  • Pancreas / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography