What is Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome & Treatment?

January 28, 2023
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There are many diseases we are not aware of. Some diseases are so rare that unless you or someone around you is diagnosed with them, you may never even hear about them. Some of these diseases affect certain age groups while some affect only one gender.  Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome is one such disease.

What is Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome?

Also known as perihepatitis, Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome is a very rare disorder that mostly affects only women, especially women of reproductive age. Very rarely does Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome affects a man. It is a pelvic inflammatory disease that affects the reproductive organs in a woman.

Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome can cause inflammation of the stomach lining called the peritoneum and the tissues around the liver called peri hepatitis. In more severe cases, this inflammation can also spread to the diaphragm – the muscle lining that separates the abdomen from the chest. It leads to the formation of painful adhesions between the liver surface and the abdominal wall.

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Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome Causes

The exact cause behind Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome is still not very clear. Research is still going on to understand the causes of this disease.

Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome Symptoms

The classic symptom of Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome is a sharp pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. The pain can also spread to other parts on the right side of the body, like the right shoulder and the inner side of the right arm. When you try to move your arm or shoulder, the pain will intensify.

Some of the other symptoms are similar to the symptoms related to infections in general, such as:

·      Fever

·      Chills

·      Nausea or vomiting

·      Headaches

·      Weakness

·      Vaginal discharge

Diagnosing Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome can be tricky. Since its symptoms are very similar to that of other infections, one can not quickly diagnose this disorder. One can confuse the symptoms with renal colic, appendicitis, pulmonary embolism or just a urinary infection. The doctor will have to rule out these infections to narrow down the diagnosis.

If you are trying to get pregnant, your doctor will ask for a pregnancy test to rule out ectopic pregnancy. In case of a positive pregnancy test, an ultrasound will help identify an ectopic pregnancy.

The only way your doctor can be sure of a Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome diagnosis is if they explore your abdominal walls laparoscopically. Only then can they see the adhesions and confirm it is Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome.

Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome Treatment

Since this disorder stems from a PID, the best course of treatment is to address the underlying pelvic disease. So to treat Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome; Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea or other PIDs must be treated first.

Antibiotics are the first course of action to treat infections. Your doctor might prescribe tablets or inject them through an IV, depending on the severity of the infection. If the pain does not subside even after the PID is brought under control, your doctor will then perform laparoscopic surgery.

In this surgery, your doctor will remove the adhesions or scar tissues through laparoscopy. The pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdominal cavity is due to these adhesions and removing them will ease the pain to a great extent. However, this is not a very common procedure and is done only if medications fail to have an impact.

If you undergo any treatment for Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome, you need to check your partner for STIs as well. Though Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome mostly only affects women, infections can always pass on from one partner to the other.

Sometimes, just antibiotics won’t work and the patient might need to stay in the hospital under constant care. During their stay in the hospital, they will be given antibiotics and other pain relief medicines and monitored closely. The dosages or medicines prescribed will depend on the extent of the infection. So, if needed, your doctor might change the course of treatment depending on how you respond to the medicines.

Fits-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome Complications

One of the most common complications of Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome is infertility. Since it affects a female’s reproductive organs, not treating it in time or if the infection is severe, can affect the person’s fertility.

If the adhesions form in the peritoneal al cavity peritoneal cavity peritoneal cavity, peritoneal cavity peritoneal cavity it can cause bowel obstruction. However, this complication is very rare. Laparoscopy will help remove such adhesions effectively.

Controlling Fitz-Hugh-Curtis Syndrome

So, can this disease be avoided? There is not enough data on this as the exact reason behind this disorder is still understudy. As per the current information, Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome is due to a severe PID. So, the best way to avoid Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome would be to ensure you don’t get any PIDs.

To reduce the risk of PID, you can do the following:

·      Always use a condom if you are not trying to get pregnant

·      Ask your partner to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases

·      If you are sexually active with multiple partners, get yourself tested for STIs regularly

·      Avoid douching as it increases the risk of vaginal infections

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Fitz-Hugh-Curtis syndrome is a rare disorder, the exact cause for which is still not very clear. Since it stems from PID, the best way to prevent getting it would be to avoid contracting PID. When you have any pelvic infections, it is advisable to get them treated by a qualified doctor immediately. Letting it get severe or not treating it effectively in time can lead to complications, which can not only be painful be painful but can have a lasting impact on your health too.