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Dermatology Online Journal

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The rope sign, a typical and yet infrequent clue


Cutaneous granulomatous reactions are diverse, both from the clinical and the pathological perspective. Most underlying pathophysiological aspects remain elusive. Interstitial granulomatous dermatitis and palisaded neutrophilic and granulomatous dermatitis have been claimed to be reactions to systemic disorders, such as infectious, inflammatory, or neoplastic conditions. Recently, the overarching term "reactive granulomatous dermatitis" has been coined to unify both entities. We herein report two cases of reactive granulomatous dermatitis presenting with the widely known, albeit infrequent "rope sign" and provide clinicopathological correlation. The two patients included a 53-year-old woman with enlarging erythematous plaques and underlying palpable cords on both sides of trunk near axillae (rope sign), and a 51-year-old woman with personal history of rheumatoid arthritis and a palpable cord on the left aspect of the trunk. Pathological findings were compatible with reactive granulomatous dermatitis in both cases. In conclusion, the rope sign represents a strikingly infrequent but decisive diagnostic clue of reactive granulomatous dermatitis.

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