Oral lymphangiectasia and gastrointestinal Crohn disease

Volha Lenskaya, Parin Panji, Ellen H. de Moll, Kaci Christian, Robert G. Phelps

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1 Scopus citations


Lip edema with non-caseating granulomas or lymphangiectasia pose a clinical and pathological challenge. These findings can be attributed to cheilitis granulomatosa (CG), Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (MRS), or Crohn disease (CD) depending on the appropriate clinical context. Lymphangiectasis, in particular, is a common pathological finding in CD due to lymphatic obstruction by granulomas and intralymphatic granulomas. Because oral symptoms can precede gastrointestinal symptoms of CD or be seen in patients with asymptomatic gastrointestinal disease, the identification of lymphangiectasia should raise the possibility of underlying CD. We present a case of a young woman with several years of lip swelling, with notable lymphangiectasia and subtle granulomas on pathological evaluation. The patient was diagnosed with MRS at an outside institution and treated with systemic steroids, without further systemic evaluation. We believe that early recognition of lymphangiectasia and consideration of CD early in the work-up are critical for early diagnosis and appropriate management. Neither clinical nor histopathological findings should be used in isolation to diagnose GC, MRS, or CD as there is significant debate as to the etiology and overlapping findings of these conditions. We highlight the importance of lymphangiectasia in diagnosing underlying CD in the appropriate clinical context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1080-1084
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cutaneous Pathology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Crohn disease
  • dermatopathology
  • granulomatous cheilitis
  • lymphangiectasia


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