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CytoJournal 2014,  11:21

Fine-needle aspiration cytology of histoid leprosy of nipple

1 Department of Cytology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2 Department of Cytopathology and Gynecological Pathology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

Date of Submission25-Dec-2013
Date of Acceptance14-Apr-2014
Date of Web Publication30-Jul-2014

Correspondence Address:
MD, FRCPath Pranab Dey
Department of Cytopathology and Gynecological Pathology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1742-6413.137762

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How to cite this article:
Gupta P, Dey P. Fine-needle aspiration cytology of histoid leprosy of nipple. CytoJournal 2014;11:21

How to cite this URL:
Gupta P, Dey P. Fine-needle aspiration cytology of histoid leprosy of nipple. CytoJournal [serial online] 2014 [cited 2019 Sep 16];11:21. Available from: http://www.cytojournal.com/text.asp?2014/11/1/21/137762

Editorial/Peer Review Statement
To ensure the integrity and highest quality of CytoJournal publications, the review process of this manuscript was conducted under a double blind model (authors are blinded for reviewers and vice versa) through automatic online system.


Histoid leprosy is considered to be a form of lepromatous leprosy and exhibits characteristic clinical and histological features. [1],[2] Patients usually present with nodular lesions over the dorsum of hand, arms, lower back, chest, and buttocks. Diagnosis is usually confirmed on histological examination. Fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) can be a rapid, safe, and effective alternative for diagnosis in a suspected case of leprosy and only a few studies have described this entity. [2],[3],[4],[5] We report the cytomorphological findings that helped us to establish the diagnosis of histoid leprosy in a patient with nipple enlargement.

A 40-year-old male patient was referred to the cytology clinic for FNAC of right nipple enlargement. On examination, the swelling of the nipple measured 1 cm in diameter. There was no overlying erythema, discoloration, or ulceration and no discharge. FNAC yielded blood mixed and particulate material. The smears were cellular and showed multiple clusters of oval to spindle shaped cells with elongated nuclei, fine chromatin and scanty to moderate cytoplasm [Figure 1]a]. The background showed numerous histiocytes and lymphocytes. Figure 1b and 1c highlights the negatively stained organisms as singly scatlered or as bundles. The modified Ziehl-Neelson (Z-N) stain for Mycobacterium leprae was strongly positive, with a bacillary index of +6 [Figure 2]. A final diagnosis of histioid leprosy was made on the basis of these clinical and cytomorphological findings.

Histioid leprosy is a distinct form of leprosy characterized by nodular tumor like swelling of the subcutaneous tissue in apparently normal skin. The nodule is usually seen in arms, buttocks, thighs and over the knees. On histology section, the lesion shows many spindle shaped cells and foamy macrophages. Lepra stain shows a bunch of acid fast bacilli within the histiocytes and also extracellularly.
Figure 1: (a) Discrete spindle cells and foamy histiocytes with unstained acid-fast bacilli highlighted as negative staining (May Grunwald Geimsa stain, ×high power), (b and c) Negatively stained organisms as single or narrow bundles (arrows) and thicker bundles (arrow heads)

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Figure 2: Abundant discrete and small bunches of acid fast lepra bacilli (Modified Ziehl– Neelson stain, ×Oil immersion)

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Fine-needle aspiration cytology of histoid leprosy have been described by occasional studies. [2],[3],[5] Mehdi et al. [3] described that spindle shaped histiocytes forming whorl like arrangement along with many foamy cells are characteristic of histoid leprosy in FNAC smear. We also noted similar features in FNAC. There were many discrete spindle cells in the FNAC smear along with foamy macrophages. In addition, many rods like negative shadows were also noted. The negative images of the bunch of bacilli raised our suspicion of an infective etiology. Modified Z-N stain confirmed the diagnosis of leprosy [Figure 1]b and 1c]. Without proper history, these spindle shaped cells may be mistaken as spindle cell lesions of soft tissue. [3]

In brief, FNAC can be an excellent alternative to conventional skin biopsy for the diagnosis of histoid leprosy. It is safe, less invasive, rapid, and inexpensive and permits simultaneous sampling of multiple sites, thereby improving the overall diagnostic accuracy.

 » Competing interests statement by all authors Top

All the authors declare that they have no competing interests.

 » Authorship statement by all authors Top

All authors of this article declare that we qualify for authorship. Each author has participated sufficiently in the work and take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content of this article. Each author acknowledges that this final version was read and approved.

 » Ethics statement by all authors Top

This manuscript is a case description in form of a letter. Therefore, institutional ethical approval was not mandatory.

 » References Top

1.Annigeri SR, Metgud SC, Patil JR. Lepromatous leprosy of histoid type. Indian J Med Microbiol 2007;25:70-1.  Back to cited text no. 1
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
2.Bhake AS, Desikan KV, Jajoo UN. Cytodiagnosis of histoid leprosy. Lepr Rev 2001;72:78-82.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Mehdi G, Maheshwari V, Gaur S, Sharma R. Histoid leprosy: Diagnosis by fine needle aspiration cytology. Acta Cytol 2003;47:529-31.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Jena S, Swain JP, Mishra S. FNAC study of histoid nodule: An early tool for diagnosis. Indian J Lepr 2005;77:135-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Prasad PV, George RV, Kaviarasan PK, Viswanathan P, Tippoo R, Anandhi C. Fine needle aspiration cytology in leprosy. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2008;74:352-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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