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A Journal on Dentistry and Maxillofacial Surgery

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Odontostomatology and Maxillofacial Surgery
Indexed/Abstracted in: CAB, EMBASE, Index to Dental Literature, PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index




Minerva Stomatologica 2004 January-February;53(1-2):49-60

language: Italian

Herpes zoster of the trigeminal nerve: a case report and review of the literature

Carbone V., Leonardi A., Pavese M., Raviola E., Giordano M.


Herpes zoster (shingles) is caused when the varicella zoster virus that has remained latent since an earlier varicella infection (chicken-pox) is reactivated. Herpes Zoster is a less common and endemic disease than varicella: factors causing reactivation are still not well known, but it occurs in older and/or immunocompromised individuals. Following reactivation, centrifugal migration of herpes zoster virus (HZV) occurs along sensory nerves to produce a characteristic painful cutaneous or mucocutaneous vesicular eruption that is generally limited to the single affected dermatome. Herpes zoster may affect any sensory ganglia and its cutaneous nerve: the most common sites affected are thoracic dermatomes (56%), followed by cranial nerves (13%) and lumbar (13%), cervical (11%) and sacral nerves (4%). Among cranial nerves, the trigeminal and facial nerves are the most affected due to reactivation of HZV latent in gasserian and geniculated ganglia. The 1st division of the trigeminal nerve is commonly affected, whereas the 2nd and the 3rd are rarely involved. During the prodromal stage, the only presenting symptom may be odontalgia, which may prove to be a diagnostic challenge for the dentist, since many diseases can cause orofacial pain, and the diagnosis must be established before final treatment. A literature review of herpes zoster of the trigeminal nerve is presented and the clinical presentation, differential diagnosis and treatment modalities are underlined. A case report is presented.

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