Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex
Understanding Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex will first require a brief discussion of granulomas and eosinophils. Granulomas are a clump of inflammatory cells and eosinophils are a particular type of white blood cell that is active during the immune response that causes allergies. Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex relates to 3 separate skin conditions that are usually seen in cats but can be present in other animals. The three conditions that can be described as Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex are the indolent ulcer, the eosinophilic plaque, and the eosinophilic granuloma. Though most likely related to an allergic reaction, the causes of Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex are not fully understood.
The indolent ulcer can be recognized as a skin deformity/lesion on the cat’s upper lip or tongue. Tongue lesions tend to be found deep in the mouth of the cat so they can be difficult to find. Usually, indolent ulcers can be diagnosed without a biopsy unless your veterinarian is trying to rule out the presence of cancerous skin cells. Eosinophilic plaque is characterized by raw, thick, and raised skin on the belly, inner thigh, or throat of your cat. These lesions tend to cause itching. Eosinophilic plaque can be identified under microscope. Finally, eosinophilic granuloma will appear as a swollen bottom lip or chin and may be accompanied by long, narrow lesions on the back of our cat’s legs/thighs. This particular form of Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex is most common in adolescent cats.
Symptoms and diagnosis
Clearly, the symptoms of all 3 forms of Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex involve skin lesions and rashes. These rashes can often be itchy and painful and may become infected leading to more serious problems. Though most often associated with some form of allergy it can be particularly difficult to identify which allergen causes the reaction and sometimes no definitive link can be made. In cats suffering from Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex, the functionality of the eosinophils becomes distorted and it appears that these white blood cells recognize your cat’s skin cells as parasites and begin attacking them.
Diagnosis can usually be made by a veterinarian who carefully inspects the points of lesion. Sometimes, cell samples are taken so that they can be studied under microscope in order to determine the presence of eosinophils. Some veterinarians may decide to adopt a more aggressive approach if they suspect the skin condition may be cancer. In cases such as these, your vet will recommend a skin biopsy to rule out the presence of cancerous cells. Otherwise, diagnosis of Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex tends to be very straightforward and can be made via a thorough physical exam.
The most effective known treatment for Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex is similar to treatments of other auto-immune disorders. Cortisone and cortisone derivatives will need to be injected on a regular schedule. The most common course of treatment will usually include an injection every other week until lesions have disappeared.