lymphogranuloma venereum

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Related to lymphogranuloma venereum: granuloma inguinale, chancroid

Lymphogranuloma Venereum



Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) is a sexually transmitted systemic disease (STD) caused by a parasitic organism closely related to certain types of bacteria. It affects the lymph nodes and rectal area, as well as the genitals, in humans. The name comes from two Latin words that mean a swelling of granulation tissue in the lymph nodes resulting from sexual intercourse. Granulation tissue is tissue that forms during wound or ulcer healing that has a rough or lumpy surface.


Although LGV is easily treated in its early stages, it can produce serious complications in its later stages. LGV is most likely to occur among people living in tropical or subtropical countries and among military personnel or tourists in countries or large cities with high rates of the disease. Prostitutes play a major role in carrying and transmitting LGV, as was documented during an outbreak in Florida in the late 1980s. There are about 1000 documented cases of LGV in the United States in an average year.

Causes and symptoms

LGV is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, a globe-shaped parasitic organism that reproduces only inside of living cells. C. trachomatis has 17 subtypes and is responsible for a wide range of infections in both men and women; however, only subtypes L1, L2, and L3 cause lymphogranuloma venereum. The parasite has a two-part lifecycle. In the first stage, it is inert and can survive outside of cells. In its second stage, it lacks a cell wall and actively reproduces after gaining entry to a cell. As the chlamydia organism reproduces inside the cell, it pushes the nucleus aside and forms an inclusion that can be identified with tissue staining. LGV differs from other diseases caused by C. trachomatis in that it affects the body's lymphatic system and not just the moist tissues of the genital region. In humans, the chlamydia organism is transmitted through vaginal or anal intercourse, oral sex, or contact with fluid from open ulcers or infected tissues.
Lymphogranuloma venereum has three stages. In its primary stage, the disease is more likely to be detected in men; it may go unnoticed in women. After an incubation period of four to 30 days, a small painless ulcer or blister develops in the genital area. Second-stage LGV develops between one and six weeks later. In this stage, the infection spreads to the lymphatic system, forming buboes (swellings) in the lymph nodes of the groin area. The buboes often merge, soften, and rupture, forming sinuses and fistulas (hollow passages and ducts) that carry an infectious bloody discharge to the outside of the body. Patients with second-stage LGV may also have fever, nausea, headaches, pains in their joints, skin rashes, and enlargement of the spleen or liver. Third-stage LGV, which is sometimes called anogenitorectal syndrome, develops in about 25% of patients. In men, this stage is usually seen in homosexuals. Third-stage LGV is marked by rectal pain, constipation, a discharge containing pus or bloody mucus, and the development of strictures (narrowing or tightening of a body passage) in the rectum or vagina.
LGV can have a number of serious complications. C. trachomatis infections of any subtype are associated with long-term fertility problems in women. Strictures in the rectum can completely close off the lower bowel, producing eventual rupture of the bowel and inflammation of the abdominal cavity. The patient can develop chronic abscesses or fistulae in the anal area or in the vagina in women. Long-term blockages in the lymph nodes can produce elephantiasis, a condition in which the patient's upper legs and groin area become greatly enlarged. Patients with chronic LGV infection have a higher risk of developing cancer in the inflamed areas.
Chronic LGV can be reactivated in patients who become infected with the AIDS virus. These patients develop open ulcers in the groin that are difficult to treat.


The diagnosis of LGV is usually made on the basis of the patient's history, careful examination of the genital area and lymph nodes, and blood tests or cultures to confirm the diagnosis. In the early stages of the disease, the doctor will need to distinguish between LGV and such other STDs as syphilis and herpes. If the patient has developed buboes, the doctor will need to rule out tuberculosis, cat-scratch disease, bubonic plague, or tularemia (a disease similar to plague that is carried by rabbits and squirrels). If the patient has developed rectal strictures, the doctor will need to rule out tumors or colitis.
There are several blood tests that can be used to confirm the diagnosis of LGV. The most commonly used are the complement fixation (CF) test and the microimmunofluorescence (micro-IF) tests. Although the micro-IF test is considered more sensitive than the CF test, it is less widely available. An antibody titer (concentration) of 1:64 or greater on the CF test or 1:512 or greater on the micro-IF test is needed to make the diagnosis of LGV. In some cases, the diagnosis can be made from culturing C. trachomatis taken from samples of tissue fluid from ulcers or buboes, or from a tissue sample from the patient's rectum.


LGV is treated with oral antibiotics, usually tetracycline or doxycycline for 10-20 days, or erythromycin or trimethoprim sulfamethoxazole for 14 days. Pregnant women are usually treated with erythromycin rather than the tetracyclines, because this class of medications can harm the fetus.

Key terms

Anogenitorectal syndrome — Another name for third-stage LGV.
Aspiration — A procedure in which pus or other fluid is removed from a body cavity through a hollow needle connected to a syringe.
Bubo — An inflamed swelling inside a lymph node, characteristic of second-stage LGV.
Elephantiasis — Abnormal enlargement of the legs and groin area caused by blockage of the lymphatic system, as a complication of LGV.
Fistula — A passageway formed by a disease or injury that drains fluid from an infected area to the outside or to other parts of the body.
Lymph — A clear yellowish fluid that circulates throughout the body, carrying white blood cells and fats. The system that produces and circulates lymph is called the lymphatic system; it includes lymph vessels, lymph nodes, the thymus gland, and the spleen.
Proctitis — Inflammation of the anus and rectum.
Stricture — An abnormal narrowing or tightening of a body passage. LGV can cause strictures to form in the patient's rectum, or in the vagina of female patients.
Patients who have developed second- and third-stage complications may need surgical treatment. The doctor can treat buboes by withdrawing fluid from them through a hollow needle into a suction syringe. This procedure is called aspiration. Fistulas and abscesses also can be treated surgically. Patients who develop elephantiasis are usually treated by plastic surgeons. Patients with rectal strictures may need surgery to prevent bowel obstruction and rupture into the abdomen.


The prognosis for recovery for most patients is good, with the exception of AIDS patients. Prompt treatment of the early stages of LGV is essential to prevent transmission of the disease as well as fertility problems and other serious complications of the later stages.


Prevention of lymphogranuloma venereum has four important aspects:
  • Avoidance of casual sexual contacts, particularly with prostitutes, in countries with high rates of the disease.
  • Observance of proper safeguards by health professionals. Doctors and other healthcare workers should wear gloves when touching infected areas of the patient's body or handling soiled dressings and other contaminated items. All contaminated materials and instruments should be double-bagged before disposing.
  • Tracing and examination of an infected person's recent sexual contacts.
  • Monitoring the patient for recurring symptoms for a period of six months after antibiotic treatment.



Chambers, Henry F. "Infectious Diseases: Bacterial & Chlamydial." In Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 1998, edited by Stephen McPhee, et al., 37th ed. Stamford: Appleton & Lange, 1997.


lymphogranuloma inguina´le (venereal lymphogranuloma) (lymphogranuloma vene´reum) a sexually transmitted disease caused by a strain of Chlamydia trachomatis, which affects the lymph organs in the genital area. It occurs most frequently in tropical and semitropical regions. Three to 21 days after the body is infected, a small, hard sore appears in the genital area. The disease soon spreads from the local sore to the lymph nodes, particularly those in the groin; nodes may swell to the size of a walnut. Since they seldom break open and drain pus, the swellings may remain for months unless aspirated. In women with the disease, the vulva may become greatly enlarged. The rectum may become narrowed, so that surgery is necessary for relief. In the early stages of the disease, there may also be inflammation of the joints, skin rashes, and fever. Sometimes the brain and meninges are affected. It is thought that after the initial sore heals, men may no longer transmit the disease. Women, however, may infect sexual partners for years. The condition may be successfully treated with doxycycline or erythromycin.

lymphogranuloma venereum

(lĭm′fə-grăn′yə-lō′mə və-nîr′rē-əm)
A sexually transmitted disease caused by a bacterium (Chlamydia trachomatis), characterized by an initial genital lesion followed by enlargement of the lymph nodes in the groin area.

lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV)

Etymology: L, lympha + granulum, small grain; Gk, oma, tumor; L, Venus, goddess of love
a sexually transmitted disease caused by a strain of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis that primarily infects the lymphatics. It is characterized by ulcerative genital lesions, marked swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin, headache, fever, and malaise. Ulcerations of the rectal wall occur less commonly. The disease is diagnosed by isolating the organism from an infected node and demonstrating LGV antibodies by serological blood test. Doxycycline is usually prescribed for the patient and any person with whom there has been sexual contact. When changing dressings, aseptic technique is used. Also called lymphopathia venereum. See also Chlamydia.
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Lymphogranuloma venereum

lymphogranuloma venereum

LGV, lymphogranuloma inguinale, lymphopathia venereum An STD caused by one of 3 immunotypes–L1, L2 and L3 of Chlamydia trachomatis; LGV is uncommon in USA, regionally endemic in Asia, Africa and South America Clinical Papuloulcer that heals at the inoculation site, then matted and painful loco-regional–inguinal and perirectal–lymphadenopathy, described as 'kissing' lesions with a 'groove' sign, sloughing of skin, purulent drainage, hemorrhagic proctocolitis, malaise, fever, headache, aseptic meningitis, anorexia, myalgia, arthralgia, hepatitis, conjunctivitis, erythema nodosum Lab Antibody assays–eg, immunofluorescence, counterimmunoelectrophoresis, complement fixation titers > 1:32 Treatment Tetracycline, excision Late complications Urethral, rectal strictures, lymphedema, rectovaginal fistulas. See Bubo.

lym·pho·gran·u·lo·ma ve·ne·re·um

, venereal lymphogranuloma (lim'fō-gran-yū-lō'mă ve-nē'rē-ŭm, vĕ-nēr'ē-ăl)
A sexually transmitted infection usually due to Chlamydia trachomatis, characterized by a transient genital ulcer and inguinal adenopathy in the male; in the female, perirectal lymph nodes are involved and rectal stricture is common.

lymphogranuloma venereum

A sexually transmitted disease caused by Chlamydia trachomatis organisms causing transient genital ulcers, enlargement and matting of the groin lymph nodes, fever, weight loss, enlargement of the liver and spleen, and later complications such as narrowing of the urine passage (URETHRAL STRICTURE), abscesses and stricture of the rectum and the formation of drainage SINUSES. The condition responds to TETRACYCLINE antibiotics but corrective surgery may be necessary.
References in periodicals archive ?
Resurgence of lymphogranuloma venereum in Western Europe: An outbreak of Chlamydia trachomatis serovar L2 proctitis in The Netherlands among men who have sex with men.
Lymphogranuloma venereum emerging in men who have sex with men in Germany.
Table 2 Number of new sexually transmitted diseases, by group (a) Intervention Control Disease or treatment type (n = 288) (n = 293) Syphilis 1 0 Gonorrhea 45 40 Chlamydia 14 11 Chancroid 0 2 Lymphogranuloma venereum 0 0 HIV 0 1 Nongonococcal urethritis 3 6 Gonorrhea treatment 140 121 Chlamydia treatment 146 137 (a)A participant could have been diagnosed with or treated for multiple sexually transmitted diseases at one time and could have been diagnosed with or treated for the same sexually transmitted disease more than once.
Genetic profiles of lymphogranuloma venereum specimens, Europe and United States * MLST profile Sample No.
Evidence for naturally occurring recombination in the gene encoding the major outer membrane protein of lymphogranuloma venereum isolates of Chlamydia trachomatis.
We studied the quality and timeliness of public health actions during the reemergence of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Europe from January 2004 to February 2006.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported on an outbreak of lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) among men who have sex with men in the Netherlands (MMWR 2004;53:985-8).
In a recent article on this LGV outbreak (3), 2 issues were stressed: 1) the lack of an easy diagnostic tool and 2) whether lymphogranuloma venereum is a new problem or whether it has been present but undiagnosed.
To the Editor: An outbreak of rectal lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) has been detected in the Netherlands among men who have sex with men (1-4).
In December 2003, an unusual symptom of early lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV) in a patient infected with HIV-1, who also had proctitis, was reported in Rotterdam (1).
Immunologic relationship between genital TRIC, lymphogranuloma venereum, and related organisms in a new microtiter indirect immunofluoreseence test.
To the Editor: Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by Chlamydia trachomatis serovars L1, L2, or L3, is prevalent in tropical areas but occurs sporadically in the western world, where most cases are imported (1).