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THE PATIENT WITH RECURRING ORAL ULCERS ▼Recurring oral ulcers are among the most common problems seen by clinicians who manage diseases of the oral mucosa.

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Presentation on theme: "THE PATIENT WITH RECURRING ORAL ULCERS ▼Recurring oral ulcers are among the most common problems seen by clinicians who manage diseases of the oral mucosa."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE PATIENT WITH RECURRING ORAL ULCERS ▼Recurring oral ulcers are among the most common problems seen by clinicians who manage diseases of the oral mucosa. There are several diseases that should be included in the differential diagnosis of a patient who presents with a history of recurring ulcers of the mouth, including recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS), Behçet’s syndrome, recurrent HSV infection, recurrent erythema multiforme, and cyclic neutropenia.

2 Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis RAS is a disorder characterized by recurring ulcers confined to the oral mucosa in patients with no other signs of disease.

3 RAS affects approximately 20% of the general population, but when specific ethnic or socioeconomic groups are studied, the incidence ranges from 5 to 50%. RAS is classified according to clinical characteristics: minor ulcers, major ulcers (Sutton’s disease, periadenitis mucosa necrotica recurrens), and herpetiform ulcers. Minor ulcers, which comprise over 80% of RAS cases, are less than 1 cm in diameter and heal without scars. Major ulcers, are over 1 cm in diameter and take longer to heal and often scar.Herpetiform ulcers are considered a distinct clinical entity that manifests as recurrent small ulcers throughout the oral mucosa.

4 ETIOLOGY It was once assumed that RAS was a form of recurrent HSV infection, and there are still clinicians who mistakenly call RAS “herpes.” Many studies done during the past 40 years have confirmed that RAS is not caused by HSV. This distinction is particularly important at a time when there is specific effective antiviral therapy available for HSV that is useless for RAS. “Herpes” is an anxiety-producing word, suggesting a sexually transmitted disease among many laypersons, and its use should be avoided when it does not apply..

5 The current concept is that RAS is a clinical syndrome with several possible causes. The major factors identified include heredity, hematologic deficiencies, and immunologic abnormalities. The best documented factor is heredity. Miller and colleagues studied 1,303 children from 530 families and demonstrated an increased susceptibility to RAS among children of RAS-positive parents

6 A study by Ship and associates showed that patients with RAS-positive parents had a 90% chance of developing RAS, whereas patients with no RAS-positive parents had a 20% chance of developing the lesions.85 Hematologic deficiency, particularly of serum iron, folate, or vitamin B12, appears to be an etiologic factor in a subset of patients with RAS. The size of the subset is controversial, but most estimates range from 5 to 15%. A study by Rogers and Hutton reported clinical improvement in 75% of patients with RAS when a specific hematologic deficiency was detected and corrected with specific replacement therapy. Some cases of nutritional deficiency, such as celiac disease, are reported to be secondary to malabsorption syndrome

7 Most of the research into the etiology of RAS centers on immunologic abnormalities. Early work suggested either an autoimmune disorder or hypersensitivity to oral organisms such as Streptococcus sanguis. Investigations using more sophisticated immune assays have not supported the early work and suggest a role of lymphocytotoxicity,. Thomas and colleagues showed that lymphocytes from patients with RAS had increased cytotoxicity to oral epithelial.cells

8 Work by Pedersen and colleagues and other studies demonstrated an alteration in CD4:CD8 lymphocyte ratio, or a dysfunction of the mucocutaneous cytokine network. Further work is needed to determine if these are specific or nonspecific responses. Other factors that have been suggested as being etiologic in RAS include trauma, psychological stress, anxiety, and allergy to foods. It is well documented that cessation of smoking increases the frequency and severity of RAS. In cases of refractory disease, Hay and Reade reported the benefit of an elimination diet in some patients with suspected or proven allergy to foods such as milk, cheese, wheat, and flour. A detergent present in toothpaste, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), was suspected as an etiologic factor in RAS development, but a recent double-blind crossover study showed that use of an SLS-free toothpaste had no significant effect on ulcer development

9 CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS The first episodes of RAS most frequently begin during the second decade of life and may be precipitated by minor trauma, menstruation, upper respiratory infections, or contact with certain foods. The lesions are confined to the oral mucosa and begin with prodromal burning any time from 2 to 48 hours before an ulcer appears. During this initial period, a localized area of erythema develops.Within hours, a small white papule forms, ulcerates, and gradually enlarges over the next 48 to 72 hours. The individual lesions are round, symmetric, and shallow (similar to viral ulcers), but no tissue tags are present from ruptured vesicles (this helps to distinguish RAS from disease with irregular ulcers such as EM, pemphigus, and pemphigoid)..

10 Multiple lesions are often present, but the number, size, and frequency of them vary considerably The buccal and labial mucosae are most commonly involved. Lesions are less common on the heavily keratinized palate or gingiva. In mild RAS, the lesions reach a size of 0.3 to 1.0 cm and begin healing within a week. Healing without scarring is usually complete in 10 to 14 days

11 Most patients with RAS have between two and six lesions at each episode and experience several episodes a year.The disease is an annoyance for the majority of patients with mild RAS, but it can be disabling for patients with severe frequent lesions, especially those classified as major aphthous ulcers. Patients with major ulcers develop deep lesions that are larger than 1 cm in diameter and may reach 5 cm Large portions of the oral mucosa may be covered with large deep ulcers that can become confluent.

12 The lesions are extremely painful and interfere with speech and eating. Many of these patients continually go from one clinician to another, looking for a “cure.”The lesions may last for months and sometimes be misdiagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma, chronic granulomatous disease, or pemphigoid. The lesions heal slowly and leave scars that may result in decreased mobility of the uvula and tongue and destruction of portions of the oral mucosa. The least common variant of RAS is the herpetiform type, which tends to occur in adults. The patient presents with small punctate ulcers scattered over large portions of the oral mucosa.

13 DIAGNOSIS RAS is the most common cause of recurring oral ulcers and is essentially diagnosed by exclusion of other diseases. A detailed history and examination by a knowledgeable clinician should distinguish RAS from primary acute lesions such as viral stomatitis or from chronic multiple lesions such as pemphigoid, as well as from other possible causes of recurring ulcers, such as connective tissue disease, drug reactions, and dermatologic disorders. The history should emphasize symptoms of blood dyscrasias, systemic complaints, and associated skin, eye, genital, or rectal lesions.

14 Laboratory investigation should be used when ulcers worsen or begin past the age of 25 years. Biopsies are only indicated when it is necessary to exclude other diseases, particularly granulomatous diseases such as Crohn’s disease or sarcoidosis. Patients with severe minor aphthae or major aphthous ulcers should have known associated factors investigated, including connective-tissue diseases and abnormal levels of serum iron, folate, vitamin B12, and ferritin Patients with abnormalities in these values should be referred to an internist to rule out malabsorption syndromes and to initiate proper replacement therapy. The clinician may also choose to have food allergy or gluten sensitivity investigated in severe cases resistant to other forms of treatment. HIV infected patients, particularly those with CD4 counts below 100/mm3, may develop major aphthous ulcers

15 TREATMENT Medication prescribed should relate to the severity of the disease. In mild cases with two or three small lesions, use of a protective emollient such as Orabase (Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, NJ) or Zilactin (Zila Pharmaceutions, Phoenix,AZ) is all that is necessary. Pain relief of minor lesions can be obtained with use of a topical anesthetic agent or topical diclofenac, an NSAID frequently used topically after eye surgery. In more severe cases, the use of a high-potency topical steroid preparation, such as fluocinonide, betamethasone or clobetasol, placed directly on the lesion shortens healing time and reduces the size of the ulcers. The effectiveness of the topical steroid is partially based upon good instruction and patient compliance regarding proper use.

16 The gel can be carefully applied directly to the lesion after meals and at bedtime two to three times a day, or mixed with an adhesive such as Orabase prior to application. Larger lesions can be treated by placing a gauze sponge containing the topical steroid on the ulcer and leaving it in place for 15 to 30 minutes to allow for longer contact of the medication. Other topical preparations that have been shown to decrease the healing time of RAS lesions include amlexanox paste and topical tetracycline, which can be used either as a mouth rinse or applied on gauze sponges.

17 Intralesional steroids can be used to treat large indolent major RAS lesions. It should be emphasized that no available topical therapy decreases the onset of new lesions. In patients with major aphthae or severe cases of multiple minor aphthae not responsive to topical therapy, use of systemic therapy should be considered. Drugs that have been reported to reduce the number of ulcers in selected cases of major aphthae include colchicine, pentoxifylline, dapsone, short bursts of systemic steroids, and thalidomide Each of these drugs has the potential for side effects, and the clinician must weigh the potential benefits versus the risks

18 . Thalidomide has been shown to reduce both the incidence and severity of major RAS in both HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients, but this drug must be used with extreme caution in women during childbearing years owing to the potential for severe life-threatening and deforming birth defects. All clinicians prescribing thalidomide in the United States must be registered in the STEPS (System for Thalidomide Education and Prescribing Safety) program, and patients receiving the drug must be thoroughly counseled regarding effective birth control methods that must be used whenever thalidomide is prescribed. For example, two methods of birth control must be used, and the patient must have a pregnancy test monthly. Other side effects of thalidomide include peripheral neuropathy, gastrointestinal complaints, and drowsiness.

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21 A 42-year-old woman with a recent increase in severity of recurrent aphthous ulcers. An iron deficiency was detected, and the ulcers resolved when this deficiency was corrected.

22 Major aphthous ulcer in an HIV-infected patient.

23 Beh ç et ’ s Syndrome Behçet’s syndrome, described by the Turkish dermatologist Hulûsi Behçet, was classically described as a triad of symptoms including recurring oral ulcers, recurring genital ulcers, and eye lesions. The concept of the disease has changed from a triad of signs and symptoms to a multisystem disorder. The highest incidence of Behçet’s syndrome has been reported in eastern Asia, where 1 in 10,000 is affected, and the eastern Mediterranean, where it is a leading cause of blindness in young men; however, cases have been reported worldwide, including in North America, where it is estimated that 1 in 500,000 persons is affected. The highest incidence of Behçet’s syndrome is in young adults, but cases of Behçet’s syndrome in children are being reported with increasing frequency.

24 ETIOLOGY Behçet’s syndrome is caused by immunocomplexes that lead to vasculitis of small and medium-sized blood vessels and inflammation of epithelium caused by immunocompetent T lymphocytes and plasma cells. Increased neutrophil activity has also been noted. There is a genetic component to the disease,with a strong association with HLA-B51. Studies of the immune abnormalities associated with Behçet’s syndrome have included findings described above for patients with RAS. This has led some investigators to believe that Behçet’s syndrome and RAS are both manifestations of a similar disorder of the immune response.

25 CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS The most common single site of involvement of Behçet’s syndrome is the oral mucosa.Recurring oral ulcers appear in over 90% of patients; these lesions cannot be distinguished from RAS. Some patients experience mild recurring oral lesions; others have the deep large scarring lesions characteristic of major RAS. These lesions may appear anywhere on the oral or pharyngeal mucosa. The genital area is the second most common site of involvement and involves ulcers of the scrotum and penis in males and ulcers of the labia in females. The eye lesions consist of uveitis, retinal infiltrates, edema and vascular occlusion, optic atrophy, conjunctivitis, and keratitis. Generalized involvement occurs in over half of patients with Behçet’s syndrome. Skin lesions are common and usually manifest as large pustular lesions.

26 These lesions may be precipitated by trauma, and it is common for patients with Behçet’s syndrome to have a cutaneous hyper-reactivity to intracutaneous injection or a needlestick (pathergy). Positive pathergy is defined as an inflammatory reaction forming within 24 hours of a needle puncture, scratch, or saline injection. Arthritis occurs in greater than 50% of patients and most frequently affects the knees and ankles. The affected joint may be red and swollen as in rheumatoid arthritis, but involvement of small joints of the hand does not occur, and permanent disability does not result.

27 In some patients, central nervous system involvement is the most distressing component of the disease. This may include brainstem syndrome, involvement of the cranial nerves, or neurologic degeneration resembling multiple sclerosis that can be visualized by magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. Other reported signs of Behçet’s syndrome include thrombophlebitis, intestinal ulceration, venous thrombosis, and renal and pulmonary disease. Involvement of large vessels is life threatening because of the risk of arterial occlusion or aneurysms.

28 Behçet’s syndrome in children, which most frequently presents between the ages of 9 and 10 years, has similar manifestations as does the adult form of the disease, but oral ulcers are a more common presenting sign in children, and uveitis is less common. Oral lesions are the presenting symptom in over 95% of children with Behçet’s syndrome.A variant of Behçet’s syndrome, MAGIC syndrome, has been described. It is characterized by Mouth And Genital ulcers with Inflammed Cartilage.

29 DIAGNOSIS Because the signs and symptoms of Behçet’s syndrome overlap with those of several other diseases, particularly the connective- tissue diseases, it has been difficult to develop criteria that meet with universal agreement. Five different sets of diagnostic criteria have been in use during the past 20 years. In 1990, an international study group reviewed data from 914 patients from seven countries. A new set of diagnostic criteria was developed that includes recurrent oral ulceration occurring at least three times in one 12-month period plus two of the following four manifestations: 1. Recurrent genital ulceration 2. Eye lesions including uveitis or retinal vasculitis 3. Skin lesions including erythema nodosum, pseudofolliculitis, papulopustular lesions, or acneiform nodules in postadolescent patients not receiving corticosteroids 4. A positive pathergy test

30 TREATMENT The management of Behçet’s syndrome depends on the severity and the sites of involvement. Patients with sight-threatening eye involvement or central nervous system lesions require more aggressive therapy with drugs with a higher potential for serious side effects. Azathioprine combined with prednisone has been shown to reduce ocular disease as well as oral and genital involvement.120 Pentoxifylline, which has fewer side effects than do immunosuppressive drugs or systemic steroids, has also been reported to be effective in decreasing disease activity,particularly eye involvement.

31 Cyclosporine or colchicine in combination with corticosteroids has also been shown to be useful in severe disease. Colchicine and thalidomid have been shown to be useful in mucocutaneous and gastrointestinal manifestations. Systemic corticosteroids remain a mainstay of treatment and are particularly useful in rapidly controlling the disease until immunosuppressive agents begin to work. Plasmapheresis has also been used successfully in emergencies. Oral mucosal lesions not adequately controlled by systemic therapy may be treated with topical or intralesional steroids.

32 Aphthous-like lesion in a patient with Behçet’s syndrome.

33 Recurrent Herpes Simplex Virus Infection Recurrent herpes infection of the mouth (recurrent herpes labialis [RHL]; recurrent intraoral herpes simplex infection [RIH]) occurs in patients who have experienced a previous herpes simplex infection and who have serum-antibody protection against another exogenous primary infection. In otherwise healthy individuals, the recurrent infection is confined to a localized portion of the skin or mucous membranes. Recurrent herpes is not a re-infection but a reactivation of virus that remains latent in nerve tissue between episodes in a nonreplicating state.

34 Herpes simplex has been cultured from the trigeminal ganglion of human cadavers, and recurrent herpes lesions commonly appear after surgery involving the ganglion. Recurrent herpes may also be activated by trauma to the lips, fever, sunburn, immunosuppression, and menstruation. The virus travels down the nerve trunk to infect epithelial cells, spreading from cell to cell to cause a lesion. The published evidence demonstrating that RAS is not. RAS and herpes lesions can both exist intraorally and are two separate and distinct disease processes.

35 All patients who experience primary herpes infection do not experience recurrent herpes. The number of patients with a history of primary genital infection with HSV2 who subsequently experience recurrent HSV infections is approximately 15%. The recurrence rate for oral HSV1 infections is estimated to be between 20 and 40%. Studies have suggested several mechanisms for reactivation of latent HSV, Individuals with T-lymphocyte deficiencies owing to AIDS or transplant or cancer chemotherapy may develop large chronic lesions or, rarely, disseminated HSV infection.

36 CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS RHL, the common cold sore or fever blister,may be precipitated by fever, menstruation, ultraviolet light, and perhaps emotional stress. The lesions are preceded by a prodromal period of tingling or burning. This is accompanied by edema at the site of the lesion, followed by formation of a cluster of small vesicles. Each vesicle is 1 to 3 mm in diameter, with the size of the cluster ranging from 1 to 2 cm.Occasionally, the lesions may be several centimeters in diameter, causing discomfort and disfigurement. These larger lesions are more common in immunosuppressed individuals.

37 The frequency of recurrences varies. RIH lesions in otherwise normal patients are similar in appearance to RHL lesions, but the vesicles break rapidly to form ulcers. The lesions are typically a cluster of small vesicles or ulcers, 1 to 2 mm in diameter, clustered on a small portion of the heavily keratinized mucosa of the gingiva, palate, and alveolar ridges, although RIH lesions can occasionally involve other mucosal surfaces. In contrast, lesions of RAS tend to be larger, to spread over a larger area of mucosa, and to have a predilection for the less heavily keratinized buccal mucosa, labial mucosa, or floor of the mouth.

38 DIAGNOSIS If laboratory tests are desired, RIH can be distinguished from RAS by cytology smears taken from the base of a fresh lesion. Smears from herpetic lesions show cells with ballooning degeneration and multinucleated giant cells; those from RAS lesions do not. For more accurate results, cytology smears may also be tested for HSV using fluorescein-labeled HSV antigen. Viral cultures also are used to distinguish herpes simplex from other viral lesions, particularly varicella-zoster infections.

39 TREATMENT Recurrent herpes infections of the lips and mouth are seldom more than a temporary annoyance in otherwise normal individuals and should be treated symptomatically. Patients who experience frequent, large, painful, or disfiguring lesions may request professional consultation. The clinician should first attempt to minimize obvious triggers. Some recurrences can be eliminated by the wearing of sunblock during intense sun exposure.

40 Crusted lesions of recurrent herpes labialis.

41 Drugs are available that suppress the formation and shorten the healing time of new recurrent lesions. Acyclovir, the original antiherpes drug, has been shown to be both safe and effective. The newer antiviral drugs such as valacyclovir, a prodrug of acyclovir, and famciclovir, a prodrug of penciclovir, have greater bioavailability than does acyclovir, but they do not eliminate established latent HSV.However, in the mouse model, famciclovir appeared to decrease the rate of HSV latency. The clinical importance of this finding in human HSV infection is not known. The effectiveness of these antiherpes drugs to prevent recurrences of genital HSV has been studied extensively. Acyclovir 400 mg twice daily, valacyclovir 250 mg twice daily, and famciclovir 250 mg were each highly effective in preventing genital recurrences.

42 . Systemic therapy should not be used to treat occasional or trivial RHL in otherwise healthy individuals, but episodic use to prevent lesions in susceptible patients before highrisk activities such as skiing at high altitudes or before undergoing procedures such as dermabrasion or surgery involving the trigeminal nerve is justifiable. Some clinicians advocate the use of suppressive antiherpes therapy for the small percentage of RHL patients who experience frequent deforming episodes of RHL. Acyclovir 400 mg twice daily has been shown to reduce the frequency and severity of RHL in this group of patients. Both acyclovir and penciclovir are available in topical formulations, but use of these preparations shortens the healing time of RHL by less than 2 days.


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