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A Journal on Internal Medicine

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Panminerva Medica 2002 June;44(2):159-61

language: English

Malacoplakia of the tongue. A case report and review of the literature

Carbone M., Carrozzo M., Pentenero M., Gandolfo S.

From the Department of Clinical Physiopathology, Oral Medicine Section, University of Turin, Turin, Italy


Our aim is to ­present a sin­gu­lar ­case of mal­a­co­plak­ia of the ­tongue and a ­review of the lit­er­a­ture. Malacoplakia (­from the Greek “mal­a­cos”, ­soft, and “pla­cos”, ­plaque) is a gra­nu­lo­mat­o­sis initial­ly ­described in 1902. It has the clin­i­cal ­aspect of a yel­low-­brown, ­soft ­plaque of var­i­able ­size, char­ac­ter­ized by a cen­tral ­navel or ­ulcer and an ­intense periph­er­al hyper­ae­mia, usu­al­ly locat­ed in the uro­gen­i­tal and gas­troin­tes­ti­nal ­tract. The mor­tal­ity ­rate is high­er ­than 50% if ­vital ­organs are ­involved. In the ­world lit­er­a­ture ­there are 16 cas­es of the ­head and ­neck ­region and par­tic­u­lar­ly ­only 2 of ­them are locat­ed on the ­tongue. In ­these 2 cas­es the ­lesion ­caused ­some dis­tress to the ­patients who ­referred to a med­i­cal obser­va­tion for ­this ­motive. Conversely we ­report a ­case of asymp­to­mat­ic lin­gual mal­a­co­plak­ia occur­ring in a 57-­year-old wom­an, diag­nosed by ­chance dur­ing a sto­mat­o­log­i­cal exam­ina­tion in the Department of Oral Medicine and Periodontology of Turin University. In ­this ­case the out­come was ­quite ­plain and our ­patient did not ­need any sup­port­ing med­i­cal ther­a­py. Nevertheless the poten­tial dan­ger of mal­a­co­plak­ia ­should under­line the impor­tance of a ­more care­ful his­to­log­i­cal assess­ment of sub­mu­co­sal nod­ules of the oro-pha­ryn­geal ­region. Moreover the his­to­path­o­log­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tic, the ­present etiop­a­thog­e­net­ic hypoth­e­sis and the ther­a­peu­tic pat­tern of mal­a­co­plak­ia sug­gest­ed in the lit­er­a­ture are dis­cussed.

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