A Case of Congenital Syphilis-Focus on Histopathology and Literature Review.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

Although a rare disease, the incidence of congenital syphilis is on the rise in the US. We report a case of early congenital syphilis in a 1-day-old premature boy with positive Rapid plasma reagin titer, respiratory insufficiency, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and encephalopathy, born to a mother with known syphilis infection. Skin examination showed diffuse truncal petechiae, desquamation of the distal extremities, and violaceous, retiform plaques on the buttocks and lower extremities. A biopsy was performed to rule out an infectious etiology or vasculitis. Histopathologic examination revealed irregular epidermal acanthosis with orthokeratosis and parakeratosis. There were foci of neutrophilic infiltrate forming rare pustules within the stratum corneum and focal intraepidermal eosinophils, neutrophils, and rare dyskeratotic keratinocytes. In the dermis, there was some minimal endothelial swelling with a perivascular, interstitial, and periadnexal infiltrate of lymphocytes, eosinophils, and rare plasma cells. A Treponema pallidum immunostain highlighted spirochetes present within the epidermis and within the eccrine ducts. Penicillin G therapy was administered for 10 days. The infant's Rapid plasma reagin titer trended downward until it was negative 6 months after birth. Literature review reveals 8 case reports within the last 20 years describing the histopathology of rashes in congenital syphilis. Herein we summarize the reported histopathology of rashes in congenital syphilis and compare it to the histopathology of rashes in secondary syphilis in adults.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Balaban, A; Al-Rohil, RN

Published Date

  • May 1, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 44 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 372 - 375

PubMed ID

  • 35120035

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1533-0311

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/DAD.0000000000002055


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States