The oral mucosa in leprosy: a clinical and histopathological study.
INTRODUCTION: Multibacillary leprosy may involve the oral mucosa, with or without apparent lesions. There are few studies that deal with this issue in the era of multidrug therapy.
AIM: To assess the frequency of oral mucosa involvement in multibacillary leprosy patients.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: A transversal study with twenty non-treated multibacillary leprosy patients. The patients were treated in Dracena, São Paulo, between 2000 and 2002. Clinical examination of the oral mucosa was carried out. All patients were submitted to jugal mucosa, soft palate and tongue biopsies, in altered or in pre-established sites. The cross-sections were stained by techniques of hematoxilin-eosin and Ziehl-Neelsen. Granuloma and alcohol-acid-resistant bacilli findings determined the specific histopathological involvement.
RESULTS: The study involved 19 patients with an average of 2.5 years of disease progression. Specific histopathological involvement occurred in the tongue and soft palate of one lepromatous patient with an apparently normal oral mucosa.
CONCLUSIONS: (1) Clinical alterations in the oral mucosa does not imply disease involvement, it is necessary to have histopathological confirmation. (2) Apparent specific clinical alterations are rare. (3) The clinically normal oral mucosa can show specific histopathological involvement.