Morphological aspects in tuberculosis of oral cavity - our experience and a review of the literature attempt

Vol. 56 No. 3, 2015


Mihai Raul Popescu, Iancu Emil Plesea, Marian Olaru, Irina Ruxandra Strambu, Adrian Ioan Fronie, Ileana Octavia Petrescu, Florin Petrescu, Alexandru Stefarta, Paraschiva Postolache, Mihaela Popescu

Aim: The authors continue a started series of articles about extrapulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB) with the assessment of the mycobacterial lesions discovered on tissue samples of the oral cavity structures in the Department of Pathology of the Emergency County Hospital of Craiova, Romania, and the review of the cases reported in the literature available, between 1990 and 2013. Materials and Methods: The studied material consisted, for our series, of samples obtained by biopsy or surgical excision, including the salivary glands and excluding the lymph nodes from 17 patients histopathologically diagnosed with tuberculosis and, for review series, 190 papers selected from PubMed database. Results: The number of cases reported increased throughout the studied period. Most cases came from departments connected with oral pathology but also from various medical and surgical departments. In general, patients were adults with a mean age of around 40 years, with twice as many men than women, without no information or no clinical suspicion of tuberculosis (TB) at the admission. When reported, the provisional diagnostic was oriented most often towards neoplastic proliferation. There was no information about human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing in more than half of the case reports but when existed the result was two-fold more frequently negative than positive. TB lesions of the oral cavity were more often primary infections than secondary. From morphological point of view, the granuloma cellular population included both epithelioid and Langhans cells in most of the cases, the necrosis, present in most of the cases, displayed the whole range of morphological features, but mainly the acidophilic, microgranular one and the perilesional fibrosis was absent in almost all of the cases. As a whole, well-differentiated granulomas were the most frequent, usually of grade II - reactive type (homeostatic) but with a significant contingent of grade I - hyperplastic (protective) granulomas. Local extension was usually not present and, when present, regional lymph nodes were mainly involved. Coexistence of TB lesions with a neoplastic proliferation was very rare and when present it was mainly located in the parotid gland. Apart from this general profile, particular, individual profiles were observed for each of the oral cavity segments. Conclusions: TB lesions in the oral cavity are indeed a rare event but no swelling or ulcer in the oral cavity should be disregarded by the medical practitioners because it could be tuberculosis.

Corresponding author: Iancu Emil Plesea, Professor, MD, PhD; e-mail:

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