Korean Lepr Bull.  2005 Dec;38(2):15-24.

The decision for termination of leprosy treatment using reticulum stain of leprosy skin lesions

  • 1Department of Dermatology, Wonkwang University School of Medicine, Iksan, Korea. sdpark@wonkwang.ac.kr
  • 2Institute of Wonkwang Medical Science, Wonkwang University School of Medicine, Iksan, Korea.


The rate of the relapse of leprosy differs from researcher to researcher, so it is thought that the exact decision on the termination of a treatment would play an important role in lowering the rate of the relapse of leprosy. This study attempts to lower the rate of the relapse of leprosy by the decision for termination of leprosy treatment by using reticulum stain of skin in leprosy which is one of granulomatous diseases, as granuloma can be easily observed in reticulum stain in sarcoidosis which is one of the common granulomatous diseases. The patients for this study consisted of five cases of lepromatous type leprosy, three cases of tuberculoid type leprosy, and one case of borderline tuberculoid leprosy. They were treated by a multidrug therapy, and its clinical lesions were observed every month. Also skin biopsy was performed every six months, and the changes of granuloma and acid-fast bacilli were observed in accordance with hematoxylin-eosin, Fite-Farraco, and reticulum stain which provides a better observation of granuloma lesion. Skin lesion of paucibacillary leprosy disappeared in 8 to 12 months, but seen from skin biopsy, epitheloid cell granuloma began to disappear after several months and after 12 months, it almost disappeared. But in some lesion, it remained until 21 months, and even after 33 months, perivascular inflammatory cell infiltrations were found. Skin lesions of multibacillary leprosy disappeared within 9 to 33 months, and bacilli checked by skin smear turned negative, but according to a skin biopsy, the number or the size of the foamy histiocytic granuloma became smaller. There was an example that it still remained after 84-month treatment. As a rule, reticulum stain in leprosy made reticulum fibers surround granuloma in various ways, so it helped us to observe distinctively granuloma. In a treatment of leprosy, it could prevent the relapse of leprosy that the already treated lesions should be checked with repeated skin biopsies at certain intervals, though skin lesions disappear and bacilli are not found in a skin smear. It is concluded that reticulum stain could be one of the useful methods in observing granulomatous lesions for determination of healing of leprosy.


leprosy; treatment termination; reticulum stain
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