OBJECTIVES--To report benign rheumatoid nodules in a woman with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and borderline lepromatous leprosy and to summarise the features of the patients with adult onset benign rheumatoid nodules. METHODS--A 66 year old woman with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and borderline lepromatous leprosy who presented with subcutaneous elbow nodules, which were at first suspected to represent either progression of her haematological disease or leprosy, is described. The clinical characteristics of our patient and previous reports of another 24 subjects with adult onset benign rheumatoid nodules are reviewed. RESULTS--Biopsy of the patient's subcutaneous lesion disclosed the histopathology of a rheumatoid nodule; serological and clinical evaluations for rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatoid nodule associated systemic diseases were negative. Adult onset benign rheumatoid nodules are clinically and histologically identical to those found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. They often appeared in women during their 20s, frequently resolved spontaneously or were adequately treated by excision, and recurred in about one third of patients. The lesions were located in the ocular adnexa in 60% of patients. The most common lesional sites in patients with non-ocular benign rheumatoid nodules were the elbows, feet, and knees. None of these patients subsequently developed rheumatoid arthritis or other rheumatoid nodule associated diseases during follow up periods of as long as 20 years. CONCLUSION--The appearance of subcutaneous nodules is often the harbinger of an associated systemic disorder. Although benign rheumatoid nodules occur infrequently in adults, they should be considered in the differential diagnosis of new nodular lesions.
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