Orofacial granulomatosis: Clinical and therapeutic features in an Italian cohort and review of the literature

Allergy. 2021 Jul;76(7):2189-2200. doi: 10.1111/all.14799. Epub 2021 May 15.


Background: Orofacial granulomatosis (OFG) is characterized by granulomatous inflammation of the soft tissues of maxillofacial region. We explored OFG patients from 10 different Italian centers and summarized the most recent literature data.

Methods: A review of patients with OFG was carried out. An extensive online literature search was performed to identify studies reporting diagnosis and management of OFG.

Results: Thirty-nine patients were recruited between January 2018 and February 2020. Most of them (97.4%) displayed involvement of the lips, and 28.2% suffered from Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome. Two patients received diagnosis of CD and one patient of sarcoidosis, suggesting secondary OFG. Oral aphthosis and cervical lymphadenopathy were also described. The mean diagnostic delay was 3.4 years. Histological evaluation was performed in 34/39 patients (87.2%); non-caseating granulomas were found in 73.5% of them. Neurological symptoms (28.2%), gastrointestinal symptoms in absence of overt inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (20.5%), and atopy (35.9%) were also identified. Therapeutic approaches varied among the centers. Steroids (51.3%) were used with good or partial results. Anti-TNF-α and anti-IgE monoclonal antibodies were used in 6 (15.4%) and 1 (2.6%) patients, respectively, with variable results. Surgery was the choice for 2 patients with good response.

Conclusions: OFG is a rare and neglected disease showing multiple clinical phenotypes. While early diagnosis is crucial, management is difficult and highly dependent on the expertise of clinicians due to the lack of international guidelines. There is a need to establish registry databases and address challenges of long-term management.

Keywords: Italian registries; Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome; granulomatous cheilitis; orofacial granulomatosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Granulomatosis, Orofacial* / diagnosis
  • Granulomatosis, Orofacial* / drug therapy
  • Granulomatosis, Orofacial* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Melkersson-Rosenthal Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Melkersson-Rosenthal Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Melkersson-Rosenthal Syndrome* / therapy
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Inhibitors