Valentino syndrome

Last revised by Dr Yaïr Glick on 10 Apr 2022

Valentino syndrome, also known as Valentino appendix, refers to a clinical syndrome of right lower quadrant or right iliac fossa pain secondary to a perforated peptic ulcer. It is an important differential diagnosis for acute appendicitis.

Although thought to be a very rare manifestation of a perforated peptic ulcer 1, the exact incidence of Valentino syndrome is unknown.

Clinical presentation mimics that of acute appendicitis, with signs and symptoms including 1-3:

  • localized pain, tenderness and guarding over the right lower quadrant
  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever

These clinical features are often much more prominent than those classic of peptic ulcer disease such as epigastric pain 1-3.

Valentino syndrome occurs due to gastrointestinal contents leaking through a perforated peptic ulcer tracking down the right paracolic gutter to the right iliac fossa 1-5. This results in localized peritonitis in this region and a mild chemical periappendicitis, accounting for the symptoms mimicking acute appendicitis 1-5.

Radiographic investigations, such as ultrasound or CT, may be performed with acute appendicitis being the working diagnosis, and often reveal a normal or mildly inflamed appendix 1-5. However, patients may instead have radiographic features of a ruptured peptic ulcer, including subtle pneumoretroperitoneum, with accompanying free fluid and adjacent fat stranding demonstrable in the right paracolic gutter and around the appendix, reflecting the pathophysiological basis of the condition 2,4,5

Treatment is a surgical emergency, with patients requiring repair of the rupture 1-3. Postoperatively, management should consider and address the cause of the peptic ulcer (e.g. Helicobacter pylori eradication therapy) 1-3.

The syndrome is named after Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926), an American actor, who presented with clinical features of acute appendicitis and was managed with an appendectomy, but later died from persisting complications of a ruptured peptic ulcer 1,2.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1
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  • Case 2: perforated duodenal ulcer
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