, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 263-269
Date: 08 Jun 2010

Whipple’s Disease: A Rare Disease Revisited

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Since the original postmortem diagnosis of “intestinal lipodystrophy” by Dr. George H. Whipple in 1907, the complexities of Whipple’s disease have been elucidated through case reports. Universally fatal prior to the advent of antibiotics, Tropheryma whipplei is increasingly recognized as an organism that can be treated only if the clinician seeks to identify it. Whipple’s disease is primarily a gastrointestinal disease manifesting as a malabsorption syndrome, and is detected through endoscopy and intestinal biopsy. Nongastrointestinal manifestations of the disease, although less common, are reported and have aided in its recognition as a multiorgan disease entity. Because of its rarity, treatment recommendations are currently based on observational studies and on one recent prospective study, which outlined induction therapy followed by several months of suppressive maintenance therapy to prevent relapse, which is often characterized by neurologic symptoms.

Philip A. Higginbottom is deceased.