Real-life experience of managing vulval erosive lichen planus: case-based review and U.K. multicentre case note audit

Rosalind Simpson (Corresponding Author), Sheilagh Littlewood, Maggie Cruickshank, Sue Cooper

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44 Citations (Scopus)


Summary Background There is a lack of published evidence for treatment and outcome measures for vulval erosive lichen planus (ELPV).

Objectives To conduct a multicentre case note review to examine real-life management of ELPV comparing current U.K. practice against an agreed audit standard.

Methods Criteria for standards of care for which to evaluate current service provision were set following communication with experts from the British Society for the Study of Vulval Disease. Participants from 10 U.K. centres included nine dermatologists and one gynaecologist who run specialist vulval clinics. Standards examined the documentation of disease severity/impact measures, the use of diagnostic biopsies, treatments used and assessment of treatment response.

Results Audit data were collected from 172 patients. Documentation of symptoms/clinical findings was excellent (99%, 170/172). A schematic diagram was present in the notes of 87% (150/172). Patient-related disease impact measures including Dermatology Life Quality Index (3%, 6/172) or visual analogue scales (1%, 2/172) were less well documented. Biopsies were performed in 78% (135/172); 71% (96/135) showed histological features consistent with erosive lichen planus. Squamous cell carcinoma developed in four patients (two vulval, two oral) and vulval intraepithelial neoplasia in two further patients. Recommended first-line treatment with a very potent topical steroid was used in 75% (129/172) with improvement in 66% (85/129). Significant variation in second-line therapy was seen.

Conclusions Wide variation in U.K. practice demonstrates the absence of standardized guidance for treating ELPV and the need for vulval-specific outcomes. This audit should act as a framework towards improving ELPV management and to plan future research in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


  • lichen planus


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