Gap of knowledge in diagnosis of pyoderma gangrenosum in clinical specialties education

Katherine M. Erickson, Ashley M. Reese, Alex G. Ortega-Loayza

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objectives: Pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) is a chronic ulcerative neutrophilic dermatosis. It presents a diagnostic challenge due to the absence of disease-specific markers or histopathology, lack of universally accepted diagnostic criteria, and many mimicking diseases including necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTI). PG cases often present first to specialties other than dermatology. We reviewed major educational resources in internal medicine, family medicine, and infectious disease for their coverage of PG. Content: For each specialty, we reviewed five major textbooks, five prominent journals, and any commonly used online resources. Twelve of 15 textbooks mentioned PG, only three of which included a differential, with none including NSTI in the differential. Only two of 13 journals included review articles about PG, and none of these including NSTI in their differential. Interestingly, online resources tended to be the most complete; six of nine contained PG articles, nearly all including a differential and three listing NSTI within it. Summary: We found an underrepresentation of PG among major textbooks and journals in clinical specialties, especially in differentiating PG from its mimickers. While online resources may help fill this gap in knowledge, texts and journals remain essential. Misdiagnosis and resultant mismanagement of PG can lead to disastrous outcomes. Outlook: We recommend that PG be added to the differential diagnoses of chronic ulcers in educational resources. We also suggest the addition of identification and differentiation of PG to learning materials and lectures for providers in specialties who may encounter PG, NSTI, or similarly presenting diseases to address this gap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-424
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Dermatology
  • Diagnosis
  • Medical education
  • Necrotizing fasciitis
  • Pyoderma gangrenosum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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