Medical Definition of Kikuchi disease

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Kikuchi disease: A disorder that typically causes "swollen glands" in the neck (cervical lymphadenopathy) together with fever or flu-like symptoms. Laboratory test abnormalities include elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and white blood count abnormalities (low neutrophil count and elevated lymphocyte count with atypical lymphocytes in the peripheral blood).

Kikuchi disease is fairly common in young people, predominantly young women, in Asia. Also called Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease or histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis, this condition was discovered in Japan in 1972 and since then has seen in other areas of the world.

The overall picture is suggestive of a virus infection; autoimmune factors may also play a role. However, no infectious agent has yet been identified and autoimmunity remains hypothetical.

Diagnosis is based on characteristic pathologic findings on biopsy that differentiate this disease from others such as lymphoma, systemic lupus erythematosus, and infectious lymphadenopathies.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/24/2017

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