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Year : 1994  |  Volume : 60  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 165-167

Subcutaneous granuloma annulare

Correspondence Address:
Sandipan Dhar

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Two cases of subcutaneos granuloma annulare are reported. Clinical presentation was in the form of hard subcutaneous nodules; histopathology confirmed the clinical diagnosis. The cases were unique because of onset in adult hood, occurrence over unusual sites and absence of classical lesions of granuloma annulare elsewhere.

Keywords: Subcutaneous granuloma annulare, Subcutaneous nodules

How to cite this article:
Dhar S, Kanwar J A, Das A, Kaur S. Subcutaneous granuloma annulare. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 1994;60:165-7

How to cite this URL:
Dhar S, Kanwar J A, Das A, Kaur S. Subcutaneous granuloma annulare. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 1994 [cited 2021 Jan 24];60:165-7. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Though granuloma annulare (GA) is a common entity in dermatologic practice, its subcutaneous form is uncommon and is infrequently reported in the literature. It's apparent rarity may be due to lack of awareness of the variant. In most cases it is associated with classical lesions of GA, when the diagnosis is relatively easy. [1] When present in isolation, a high degree of clinical suspicion and histopathology clinches the diagnosis. [2],[3] Children are more frequently affected, the disease may be present in the family. [1]

We report 2 cases of subcutaneous granuloma annulare recently seen by us. Both the patients were adult; none had associated lesions of GA.

  Case Reports Top

Case 1 : A 30-year-old housewife presented with bilaterally symmetrical asymptomatic nodules over elbows and knees of 3 years duration. The lesions initially appeared in the skin overlying the olecranon process, gradually increased in size and stopped growing 6 months after onset. Soon after, similar lesions appeared over prepatellar region. There was no associated fever, sore throat, joint pain or redness of eyes. General and systemic examination was essentially normal. Multiple, skin coloured hard nodules of the size ranging from 5 to 15 mm were present [Figure - 1]. They were freely mobile over underlying tissues; overlying skin was adherent but normal in texture. Apart from GA, other clinical possibilities considered were calcinosis cutis, rheumatic nodules, rheumatoid nodules, xanthoma and fibromatosis.

Investigations revealed serum and urinary calcium as 10 mg/dl and 62 mg/dl respectively. Rheumatoid and antinuclear factors (ANF) were negative; serum cholesterol, triglyceride and lipoproteins were within normal limits. An excisional biopsy of one of the nodules over left elbow showed mucinous oedematous appearance of lower dermis and adjoining subcutaneous tissue. There were occasional Langhan's giant cells and incomplete degeneration of collagen [Figure - 2]. Von-kossa stain failed to show presence of calcium.

Case 2 : A 33-year-old man presented with asymptomatic hard nodules over dorsal aspect of fingers and palms (bilateral) of 1 year duration. There was no history of associated fever, joint pain, sore throat or redness of eyes. On examination, no joint deformity was seen. Other examinations and investigations including excision biopsy of one of the nodules were essentially same as in case 1.

No family members, of both patients had subcutaneous nodules. Natural course of the disease was explained to the patients with possibility of spontaneous regression.

  Comments Top

Subcutaneous form of granuloma annulare has been reported to be familial. None of our patients had family members similarly effected. Palms, buttocks, scalp and legs, are reported to be most affected by subcutaneous GA . [4 ] The lesions predominantly involved olecranon and patellar regions in our patients, similar findings have been reported by others. [5] Repeated trauma is presumed to be a triggering factor for localization of the lesions over bony prominences. [5] In contrast to the superficial form, the deeper lesions have a hard consistency. [1] Because of the morphology and distribution, clinical possibilities of xanthoma, calcinosis cutis, fibromatosis and rheumatoid nodule are to be excluded. Rheumatoid arthritis and other disorders could be easily ruled out in both patients. Rare cases of anarthritic rheumatoid nodules and cases where rheumatoid nodules precede arthritis, differentiation from subcutaneous GA becomes difficult. However, some authors feel that probably they all are one and same entity. [6],[7] Although some workers, feel the 2 entities are indistinguishable histopathologically; [4],[8] others have emphasized that the histopathological similarity has been overemphasized and differentiation between the 2 conditions is possible. [3],[9] The necrobiosis in rheumatoid nodules has a homogenous eosinophilic appearance, whereas in subcutaneous GA there is mucinous oedematous appearance. [9]

Both our patients are unique as regards unusual age of onset, involvement of unusual site and not being associated with classical lesions of GA elsewhere.

  References Top

1.Robin M, Lynch F W. Subcutaneous granuloma annulare. Arch Dermetol 1966; 93 416-20  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Cunliffe WJ. Necrobiotic disorders. In : Text book of Dermatology (Wilkinson DS, Ebling FJG, Champion R H, Burton J L, eds) Oxford Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1968: 1386 : 1696.  Back to cited text no. 2  [PUBMED]  
3.Laymon C W, Fisher I. Necrobiosis Lipoidica (Diabeticorum). Arch Dermatol Syphiliol 1949; 59 : 150-67.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Miller H B. Subcutaneous Granuloma Annulare? Arch Derm Syph 1949; 60 : 1041.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Stillians AW. An unusual case of Granuloma Annulare. J Cutan Dis 1919; 37 : 580.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Ginsberg M H, Grenant H K, Yu T F, et al. Rheumatoid nodulosis. An unusual variant of rheumatoid disease. Arthritis Rheum 1975; 18 : 49-58.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Belin D C, Abeles M, Weinstein A. Rheumatoid markers in the absence of arthritis. J Rheumatol 1979; 6 : 293-9.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Tizard P M. Subcutaneous nodules : For diagnosis? Granuloma Annulare. Proc Roy Soc Med 1948; 41 : 301.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Isdale A H, Helliwell P S. An infiltrating rheumatoid nodule? Ann Rheum Dis 1992; 51: 688-9.  Back to cited text no. 9    


[Figure - 1], [Figure - 2]


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