Skip to main content

Recurrent and acute abdominal pain as the main clinical manifestation in patients with hereditary angioedema

Buy Article:

$36.50 + tax (Refund Policy)


Hereditary angioedema (HAE) is a rare disease that often leads to misdiagnosis. The delay of diagnosis is > 10 years in China. Recurrent and acute abdominal pain is one of the common symptoms of HAE. Because of the high misdiagnosis rate, it usually results in unnecessary surgical procedures. This study focused on the clinical symptoms and management of HAE-related abdominal attacks in Chinese patients to provide some new insight for the emergency department (ED) physicians and gastroenterologists.


A Web-based survey was conducted among 107 patients with HAE from 94 unrelated families. Detailed questions with respect to the abdominal attacks were asked, including the frequency, symptoms, and duration before and after confirmed diagnosis. The demographic characteristics, diagnosis process, and treatment outcomes were also included.


Approximately 70% of the patients with HAE presented with abdominal symptoms during the onset of edema, mostly characterized by pain (94.8%), nausea (83.1%), vomiting (83.1%), diarrhea (59.7%), and constipation (23.4%). The patients were easily misdiagnosed as having gastroenteritis (35.1%) and appendicitis (10.4%), and 24.7% of them received unnecessary appendectomy or laparotomy. Danazol, a widely used drug for long-term prophylaxis of HAE in China, can reduce the attack frequency and alleviate the abdominal symptoms, but the adverse effects are also significant and more severe in women.


Abdominal symptoms are common and important clinical features of HAE but are easily confused with other gastrointestinal diseases. ED physicians and gastroenterologists should consider HAE when patients experience recurrent and unexplained abdominal pain. Proper medical treatment should be administered in a timely manner if an HAE diagnosis is confirmed and efforts are required to increase access in China to medications both for on-demand treatment and long-term prophylaxis.

Keywords: C1-INH; acute abdomen; gastrointestinal angioedema; hereditary angioedema

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: From the Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, National Clinical Research Center for Immunologic Diseases, Beijing, China; and

Publication date: March 1, 2021

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Information for Advertisers
  • Reprint Requests
  • Commercial level: Permission to use content
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content