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Porphyria Cutanea Tarda: A Case Study

Shulstad, Raymond M.

Journal of the Dermatology Nurses' Association: September-October 2009 - Volume 1 - Issue 5 - p 305-308
doi: 10.1097/JDN.0b013e3181ba0afa
Case Study

Purpose: The purpose of this article was to present the case of a 51-year-old man whose porphyria cutanea tarda was misdiagnosed. This led to prolonged suffering, unnecessary tests and procedures, and nearly a liver biopsy. This article will give a brief overview of porphyria cutanea tarda.

Data Source: The sources of data were the case study patient's medical record and the scientific literature (journals and medical textbooks).

Conclusions: Porphyria cutanea tarda is the most common of the seven porphyrin metabolism disorders. It has traditionally been associated with excess alcohol consumption and sun exposure among males, although the true incidence shows no gender preference. The misdiagnosis and mismanagement of this disease can have a significant impact on a patient's life.

Implications for Practice: This article discusses porphyria cutanea tarda and outlines typical clinical and laboratory findings for practitioners to be able to recognize and diagnose it and initiate treatment before unnecessary tests or procedures are performed and harm comes to a patient due to lack of treatment. With proper recognition, this disorder can be treated and controlled. Furthermore, this condition provides an opportunity for nurses to do extensive teaching. Dermatology nurses must not only provide education on photoprotection but must also address the issue of alcohol abuse.

Raymond M. Shulstad, MS, ARNP-C, BC, DNC, Center for Dermatology and Skin Surgery, Spring Hill, Florida.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Raymond M. Shulstad, MS, ARNP-C, BC, DNC, Center for Dermatology and Skin Surgery, Spring Hill, Florida 34606. E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.