Evaluation of leprosy patients with 1 to 5 skin lesions with relevance to their grouping into paucibacillary or multibacillary disease
Rao, P.N.; Pratap, D.; Ramana Reddy, A.V.; Sujai, S.
Indian Journal of Dermatology Venereology and Leprology 72(3): 207-210
ISSN/ISBN: 0378-6323 PMID: 16766835 Accession: 048997297
Patients with 1 to 5 skin lesions are arbitrarily categorized as belonging to the paucibacillary (PB) group for treatment purposes. With the decreasing prevalence of leprosy in India and modifications in leprosy program, the relevance of this grouping needs further study. To study a group of leprosy patients with 1 to 5 skin lesions and compare the clinical parameters with histopathological findings and bacteriological status of the skin and nerve to evaluate the relevance of this grouping. Seventy seven patients of leprosy with 1 to 5 skin lesions were included in the study. The number of skin lesions was recorded. Slit skin smears (SSS) and skin biopsies were taken in all patients and nerve biopsy was performed in 19 of them. The biopsies were evaluated for the type of pathology and AFB status. In these 77 patients (single skin lesions, 42; two lesions, 18; three lesions, 10; four lesions, 5; and five lesions, 2 patients) the clinical classification was indeterminate leprosy (IL) in 4, tuberculoid leprosy (TT) in 4 patients and borderline tuberculoid leprosy (BT) in 69 patients. Skin smears were positive only in 1 patient. The histological diagnoses in the skin were IL in 13, TT in 3, BT in 48 and borderline lepromatous (BL) in 4 patients. Acid-fast bacilli (AFB) were found in 14 out of 77 skin biopsies. Of the 19 nerve biopsies, 17 showed histological features of BT leprosy; of these, 12 demonstrated AFB on Fite staining. The bacillary index of granuloma (BIG) ranged from 1+ to 2+. The clinico-histopathogical correlation was 63% in the BT group, with 4 patients of this group showing features of BL on histopathology. When the presence of AFB was assessed, the percentage of positivity was 1.3% in SSS, 18% in skin biopsies and 63% in nerve biopsies. Our results point to the non-homogeneous nature of this group of leprosy patients with 1 to 5 skin lesions, with varied bacteriological and histopathological features. The significance of MB type findings on histopathology in patients grouped as PB leprosy should be resolved so that these patients may be given the drug therapy and the duration of therapy they warrant.