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Erythema Induratum (Nodular Vasculitis) Workup

  • Author: Noah S Scheinfeld, JD, MD, FAAD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
 
Updated: Feb 11, 2016
 

Laboratory Studies

A complete blood cell count may be performed.

The erythrocyte sedimentation rate may be increased.

The diagnosis of erythema can be made with the help of polymerase chain reaction testing.[22, 23, 24]

The CDC[25] states that interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) are whole-blood tests that can aid in diagnosing infection Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Two IGRAs that the FDA has approved and are commercially available in the United States are the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube test (QFT-GIT) and the T-SPOT. TB test (T-Spot). The QuantiFERON test can confirm the presence of latent tuberculosis in association with erythema induratum.[26] The utility of this test was stressed in a patient with tender ulcerating nodules of the lower extremity, a normal chest radiograph, and biopsy without acid-fast bacilli, but whose QT was positive, leading to the diagnosis of erythema induratum.[27] Additional reports have stressed the utility of testing for nodular vasculitis, in particular with the QuantiFERON Gold TB test[28] and the interferon-gamma release assay.[29]

Test for hepatitis.[1]

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Imaging Studies

Chest radiography may be performed. Search for evidence of active or previous infection.

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Other Tests

Polymerase chain reaction provides rapid and sensitive detection of M tuberculosis in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens. Polymerase chain reaction can be applied to differentiating nodular vasculitis from erythema induratum of Bazin because the demonstration of mycobacteria emerges as the only reliable criterion in erythema induratum of Bazin type.

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Procedures

Some patients are highly sensitive to tuberculin PPD. Patients should be tested with a 1:10,000 dilution Mantoux test, as demonstrated in the image below.

A positive Mantoux test reaction in a patient with A positive Mantoux test reaction in a patient with erythema induratum.

An excisional biopsy containing adequate subcutaneous fat is recommended. Special stains for bacterial, fungal, and acid-fast organisms, as well as tissue for culture of these organisms, are generally obtained.

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Histologic Findings

Findings consist of a mixed septal and lobular granulomatous panniculitis with neutrophilic vasculitis, as demonstrated in the photomicrographs below.

Vasculitis and granulomatous inflammation in the d Vasculitis and granulomatous inflammation in the dermis and subcutaneous fat tissues.
Evidence of panniculitis exhibiting lobular, granu Evidence of panniculitis exhibiting lobular, granulomatous, and lymphohistiocytic inflammation.

Caseationlike necrosis may also be seen in erythema induratum. The histologic features are not specific; they vary depending on the age of the lesion undergoing biopsy and the overlap with other forms of panniculitis. Vasculitis is not always identified and is not a requisite for the diagnosis. The presence of both septal granulomatous inflammation and lobular granulomatous inflammation is, nonetheless, characteristic of erythema induratum and contrasts with erythema nodosum (primarily septal) and polyarteritis nodosa (medium vessel vasculitis with minimal lobular inflammation).

Sequra et al,[30] in a study of 101 cases of erythema induratum, found that erythema induratum had a variety of presentations of vasculitis and that in approximately 10% of cases, clinicopathologic patterns of vasculitis in erythema induratum could not be demonstrated. The location of the erythema induratum–vasculitis in this series of patients, in descending order, was as follows:

  • Small venules of the fat lobule
  • Both the venules of the fat lobule and veins of the connective-tissue septa
  • Only veins contained in connective-tissue septa
  • Veins and arteries contained in venules of the fat lobule and in the connective-tissue septa
  • Connective-tissue septa veins and arteries

Stressing the fact that the histology of erythema induratum has a range of presentations and can be a diagnosis of exclusion, Maharaja et al examined 43 cases of erythematous tender nodules, usually occurring on extremities. In 58.5% of cases, a single clinical diagnosis was made, with the remaining cases garnering more than one diagnosis being considered. Fifty-one percent of cases had histological findings concordant with the clinical diagnosis, but 14% had discordant findings and 35% were left undecided.[31]

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Noah S Scheinfeld, JD, MD, FAAD Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology, Weil Cornell Medical College; Consulting Staff, Department of Dermatology, St Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York Eye and Ear Infirmary; Assistant Attending Dermatologist, New York Presbyterian Hospital; Assistant Attending Dermatologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, North Shore-LIJ Health System; Private Practice

Noah S Scheinfeld, JD, MD, FAAD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: Abbvie<br/>Received income in an amount equal to or greater than $250 from: Optigenex<br/>Received salary from Optigenex for employment.

Specialty Editor Board

Richard P Vinson, MD Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Mountain View Dermatology, PA

Richard P Vinson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Texas Medical Association, Association of Military Dermatologists, Texas Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Lester F Libow, MD Dermatopathologist, South Texas Dermatopathology Laboratory

Lester F Libow, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatopathology, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

William D James, MD Paul R Gross Professor of Dermatology, Vice-Chairman, Residency Program Director, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

William D James, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Jean-Hilaire Saurat, MD Chair, Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Jean-Hilaire Saurat, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous previous authors, Beom Joon Kim, MD, and Kwang-Hyun Cho, MD, to the development and writing of this article.

References
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This patient exhibited tender, erythematous nodules confined to the lower third of the legs.
Vasculitis and granulomatous inflammation in the dermis and subcutaneous fat tissues.
Evidence of panniculitis exhibiting lobular, granulomatous, and lymphohistiocytic inflammation.
A positive Mantoux test reaction in a patient with erythema induratum.
 
 
 
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