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GIORNALE ITALIANO DI DERMATOLOGIA E VENEREOLOGIA

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  PANNICULITIDES: THE SPECTRUM OF THEIR DIAGNOSES AND DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSES


Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 2013 August;148(4):351-70

Copyright © 2013 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Panniculitides, an algorithmic approach

Zelger B.

Dermatohistopathological Laboratory Department of Dermatology and Venereology Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria


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The issue of inflammatory diseases of subcutis and its mimicries is generally considered a difficult field of dermatopathology. Yet, in my experience, with appropriate biopsies and good clinicopathological correlation, a specific diagnosis of panniculitides can usually be made. Thereby, knowledge about some basic anatomic and pathological issues is essential.
Anatomy differentiates within the panniculus between the fatty lobules separated by fibrous septa. Pathologically, inflammation of panniculus is defined and recognized by an inflammatory process which leads to tissue damage and necrosis. Several types of fat necrosis are observed: xanthomatized macrophages in lipophagic necrosis; granular fat necrosis and fat micropseudocysts in liquefactive fat necrosis; mummified adipocytes in “hyalinizing” fat necrosis with/without saponification and/or calcification; and lipomembranous membranes in membranous fat necrosis. In an algorithmic approach the recognition of an inflammatory process recognized by features as elaborated above is best followed in three steps: recognition of pattern, second of subpattern, and finally of presence and composition of inflammatory cells. Pattern differentiates a mostly septal or mostly lobular distribution at scanning magnification. In the subpattern category one looks for the presence or absence of vasculitis, and, if this is the case, the size and the nature of the involved blood vessel: arterioles and small arteries or veins; capillaries or postcapillary venules. The third step will be to identify the nature of the cells present in the inflammatory infiltrate and, finally, to look for additional histopathologic features that allow for a specific final diagnosis in the language of clinical dermatology of disease involving the subcutaneous fat.

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bernhard.zelger@i-med.ac.at