Whipple's disease infection surgical treatment: Presentation of a rare case and literature review

M. Amendolara, C. Barbarino, D. Bucca, G. Stevanato, M. Zucchelli, F. Romano, L. Baiano, M. Bernardi, A. Broggiato, S. Ramuscello, M. Rizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Whipple' Disease (W.D.) is a very rare disease with an incidence of 1 per 1.000.000 inhabitants; it is a systemic infection that may mimic a wide spectrum of clinical disorders, which may have a fatal outcome and affects mainly male 40-50 years old. The infective agent is an actinomycete, Tropheryma Whipplei (T.W.) that was isolated 100 years after first description by Wipple, and identified in macrophages of mucosa of the small intestine by biopsy which is characterized by periodic acid-Schiff-positive, products of the inner membrane of his polysaccharide bacterial cell wall. The multisystemic clinical manifestations evolve rapidly towards an organic decay characterized by weight loss, malabsorption, diarrhea,polyathralgia, opthalmoplegia, neuro-psychiatric disorders and sometimes associated to endocarditis. Early antibiotic treatment with trimethoprim and sulfometathaxazole reduces the fatal evolution of the disease. The authors present a rare experience about a female subject in which the clinical gastrointestinal signs were preceded by neuro-psychiatric disorders, and evolved into obstruction and intestinal perforation which required an emergency surgery with temporary ileostomy, recanalized only after adequate medical treatment with a full dose of antibiotic and resolution of clinical disease for the high risks of fistulae for the edema and lymphadenopathy of mucosa. The diagnosis was histologically examined by intestinal biopsy performed during surgery, which showed PAS-positive histiocytes, while PRC polymerase RNA was negative, which confirms the high sensibility of PAS positive and low specificity of RNA polymerase for T.W.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-121
Number of pages5
JournalGiornale di Chirurgia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • Ileostomy
  • Surgical treatment
  • Tropheryma Whipplei
  • Wipple's Disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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