Pyoderma gangrenosum underrepresentation in non-dermatological literature

Ashley M. Reese, Carter K. Haag, Enjae Jung, Allison C. Nauta, Robert A. Swerlick, Alex G. Ortega-Loayza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) is a chronic, ulcerative neutrophilic dermatosis. PG presents a diagnostic challenge, largely due to the many mimicking diseases, the lack of confirmatory laboratory or biological markers, and the absence of widely accepted diagnostic criteria. In particular, PG is often mistaken for necrotizing soft tissue infections (NSTI). We reviewed four major textbooks each in general surgery, plastic surgery, trauma surgery, vascular surgery, emergency medicine, and dermatology. We also performed a search of review articles addressing NSTI and necrotizing fasciitis (NF). Ten out of the 20 non-dermatology textbooks did not list PG anywhere, and only two listed a differential diagnosis for PG. None of the non-dermatology textbooks indicated PG in the NSTI differential diagnosis, while three of the dermatology textbooks included PG in the NSTI differential diagnosis. PG was listed in all of the dermatology textbooks. Only one of the NSTI and NF articles mentioned PG in the differential diagnosis. There is an underrepresentation in major textbooks of surgery and emergency medicine and in NSTI and NF review articles when it comes to diagnosing PG. This might be leading to trainees and advanced providers in these fields being uninstructed on PG, and likely contributes to PG misdiagnosis and mismanagement. We recommend PG be included in the differential diagnosis of chronic ulcers and NSTI in non-dermatology textbooks. We also suggest adding identification and diagnosis of inflammatory mimickers of NSTI (e.g. PG) in teaching modules in surgical and emergency specialties to address this knowledge gap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-90
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


  • chronic ulcers
  • pyoderma gangrenosum
  • skin inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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