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Kikuchi Disease

Lymph node inflammation resolves in weeks to months


Updated September 26, 2004

Kikuchi disease, also called histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis or Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease, causes lymph node inflammation. It affects people of all ethnic backgrounds, although it seems to affect women about 3 times more often than men. The exact cause of Kikuchi disease is not yet known, although some researchers have suggested it is an infection or autoimmune disorder. Kikuchi disease occurs in a wide age range, but generally affects young adults.

Kikuchi disease usually takes the form of lymph node inflammation. The lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck are usually affected (80% of individuals). Most of the time (83%) these are the only lymph nodes affected. The lymph nodes are painless, hard, and around 2-3 cm in diameter. In 50% of individuals, a fever and flu-like symptoms develop. In up to 30% of individuals, a red rash may appear.

An ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can confirm the presence of enlarged lymph nodes but cannot confirm the diagnosis. Taking out a sample of a lymph node with fine needle (aspiration) also cannot confirm the diagnosis. The only way to know for sure if Kikuchi disease is present is to remove a lymph node and examine the tissues in it.

Sometimes Kikuchi disease is misdiagnosed as lymphoma (lymph node cancer) because of the lymph node inflammation. Kikuchi disease can also be misdiagnosed as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), especially if a rash is present.

Treatment for Kikuchi disease consists of relieving any fever, flu symptoms, or lymph node tenderness. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are for these symptoms. Kikuchi disease will clear up on its own usually within 1-6 months. Antibiotics are not needed.

Information for this article was taken from:
Boone, J. L. (2004). Kikuchi disease. eMedicine, accessed at http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic3663.htm

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