A case report of porphyria variegata management in the emergency department

Betty C. Chen, Richard T. Griffey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Porphyria variegata (VP) is one of the hepatic porphyrias that results from the deficiency of protoporphyrinogen oxidase, an enzyme in the heme synthesis pathway. The name porphyria variegata refers to its many presentations, which include various neuropsychiatric and cutaneous manifestations. Emergency department (ED) presentations due to VP are most commonly neuropathic abdominal pain. Case Report: We present the case of a 57-year-old woman presenting to an ED with abdominal pain consistent with prior VP attacks. In addition to analgesics and supportive care, infusion of intravenous dextrose resulted in improvement in her symptoms. Conclusion: Intravenous dextrose and heme administration remain the first-line treatment for abdominal pain attributable to known acute hepatic porphyria attacks. Recently, the mechanism of action of carbohydrates in treating porphyria has been elucidated. Current information on this illness and ED management are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e235-e238
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


  • South African genetic porphyria
  • VP
  • abdominal pain
  • dextrose
  • porphyria variegata
  • variegate porphyria


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