Cheilitis Granulomatosa Clinical Presentation

Updated: Jun 21, 2018
  • Author: Alan Snyder; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Presentation

History

Cheilitis granulomatosa is usually seen in orofacial granulomatosis (OFG) as an episodic nontender swelling and enlargement of one or both lips. Occasionally, similar edematous swellings involve other areas, including the periocular region and genitalia. [20, 25, 26]

A fissured or plicated tongue is seen in 20-40% of patients. Its presence from birth (in some patients) may indicate a genetic susceptibility. Patients may lose the sense of taste and have decreased salivary gland secretion.

The first episode of lip edema typically subsides completely in hours or days. After recurrent attacks, swelling may persist and slowly increase in degree, eventually becoming permanent. Recurrences can range from days to years.

Attacks sometimes are accompanied by fever and mild constitutional symptoms (eg, headache, visual disturbance). Miescher-Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome involves the association with facial nerve palsy and plicated tongue. [27, 28]

Facial palsy of the lower motor-neuron type occurs in about 30% of patients with granulomatous cheilitis. Facial palsy may precede facial swelling by months or years, but it more commonly develops later. Facial palsy is intermittent at first, but it may become permanent. It can be unilateral or bilateral, partial or complete.

Other cranial nerves (eg, olfactory, auditory, glossopharyngeal, hypoglossal) are occasionally affected.

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Physical Examination

The earliest manifestation of granulomatous cheilitis is sudden diffuse or occasionally nodular swellings of the lip or the face involving (in decreasing order of frequency) the upper lip, the lower lip, both lips, and one or both cheeks. [29] The forehead, the eyelids, or one side of the scalp may be involved (less common). [26, 30] As previously mentioned, a fissured or plicated tongue is seen in 20-40% of patients.

The lip swelling may feel soft, firm, or nodular on palpation. Once chronicity is established, the enlarged lip appears cracked and fissured, with reddish brown discoloration and scaling. The fissured lip becomes painful and eventually acquires the consistency of firm rubber. Swelling may regress very slowly after some years. Regional lymph nodes are enlarged (usually minimally) in 50% of patients.

Orofacial lesions of orofacial granulomatosis (OFG) and of Crohn disease may include facial or labial swelling, “cobblestone” proliferation of mucosa or mucosal tags, and/or ulcers. An initial presentation of probable OFG does not necessarily predict the development of Crohn disease, but this is more likely in childhood. [7, 8]

Facial palsy of the lower motor-neuron type occurs in up to 30% of patients. It can be unilateral or bilateral, partial or complete. Other cranial nerves (eg, olfactory, auditory, glossopharyngeal, hypoglossal) are occasionally affected.

Central nervous system involvement has been reported, but the significance of resulting symptoms is easily overlooked because they are very variable (sometimes simulating multiple sclerosis but often with a poorly defined association of psychiatric and neurologic features). Autonomic disturbances may occur.

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