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Cullen sign refers to superficial edema visible as periumbilical discolouration and is most commonly seen in patients with acute pancreatitis 1-3.
Clinically patients with pancreatitis present with epigastric pain that radiates to the umbilical/periumbilical region and then to the whole abdomen. On clinical examination, they may have a tender, tense distended abdomen and, if the Cullen sign is present, brown/blue discolouration of the dermis around the umbilicus 2,3,5.
History and etymology
The sign was first described by Thomas Stephen Cullen (1868-1953) a Canadian-American gynecologist who first described the sign in a patient with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy 7.
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