Clinical and histopathological features of paucibacillary leprosy before and after multidrug therapy: a prospective study

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Abstract

Background

Leprosy often heals with residual skin lesions after completion of treatment. WHO recommends fixed duration multidrug therapy (MDT) irrespective of whether lesions clear or persist after treatment. Patients with residual lesions are often unsatisfied and may undergo repeat biopsy and re-treatment. This study was conducted to compare the clinicohistopathological features in paucibacillary leprosy before and after MDT from September 2012 to February 2014.

Methods

Sixty-one untreated cases of paucibacillary leprosy were investigated and given standard WHO paucibacillary-MDT for 6 months. Scoring of clinical activity was done; histopathological activity was graded according to granuloma fraction. Forty-four patients who completed the treatment were subjected to post-treatment biopsy. Clinical response to therapy was graded as active, resolving and inactive and histopathological changes were compared in all patients.

Results

Among the 44 patients, the lesions were inactive, resolving and active in 39% (17/44), 39% (17/44) and 23% (10/44) of patients respectively. Histologically, disease was inactive, resolving and active in 30% (13/44), 9% (4/44) and 61% (27/44). But histomorphological features suggesting regression: loose granulomas (59%, 26/44); lymphocyte predominance (66%, 29/44); vacuolar change in epithelioid cell cytoplasm (59%, 26/44), were statistically significant in post-treatment compared to pre-treatment.

Conclusions

Although histological resolution is slower than clinical resolution, qualitative histomorphological changes in correlation with clinical inactivity can offer a fair suggestion to the clinician to terminate therapy.

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