PMID: 2915058Feb 1, 1989

Subacute radiation dermatitis: a histologic imitator of acute cutaneous graft-versus-host disease

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
P E LeBoit


The histopathologic changes of radiation dermatitis have been classified either as early effects (necrotic keratinocytes, fibrin thrombi, and hemorrhage) or as late effects (vacuolar changes at the dermal-epidermal junction, atypical radiation fibroblasts, and fibrosis). Two patients, one exposed to radiation therapeutically and one accidentally, are described. Skin biopsy specimens showed an interface dermatitis characterized by numerous dyskeratotic epidermal cells with lymphocytes in close apposition (satellite cell necrosis); that is, the epidermal changes were similar to those in acute graft-versus-host disease. Because recipients of bone marrow transplants frequently receive total body irradiation as part of their preparatory regimen, the ability of radiation to cause persistent epidermal changes similar to those in acute graft-versus-host disease could complicate the interpretation of posttransplant skin biopsy specimens.


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Related Concepts

Acute Disease
Differential Diagnosis
Graft-vs-Host Disease
Phosphorus Radioisotopes
Radiation Syndrome
Radiotherapy, Targeted
Dermatologic Disorders

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