Background Nasal ulcerations have many causes. Ulcerations that are self-induced are difficult to diagnose and treat. Two rare conditions with self-induced nasal ulceration are trigeminal trophic syndrome (TTS) and factitious disorder (FD). Trigeminal trophic syndrome is characterized by trigeminal anesthesia, nasal alar ulceration, and facial paresthesia. Appearance of the nasal ulcer after trigeminal ablation for neuralgia is diagnostic. Self-induced nasal lesions that occur in FD are primarily distinguished from those in TTS by the presence of normal trigeminal nerve function and frequent patient denial of lesion manipulation.
Objectives To increase physician awareness of the disorders leading to self-induced nasal ulceration and to discuss management issues in our patient series.
Design A retrospective review of 7 cases in which the patients presented for reconstructive consultation between March 1985 and October 1997 and were found to have self-induced nasal ulcerations.
Setting Tertiary university medical center.
Results Five patients were identified with TTS and underwent nasal reconstruction an average of 43 months (range, 4-72 months) after nasal ulcer presentation. Four of the 5 patients developed ulcer recurrence between 1 and 58 months after reconstruction; secondary reconstruction resulted in recurrence in 2 of these patients. Two patients were identified with FD and self-induced nasal ulceration. One of these 2 patients underwent total nasal reconstruction 15 months after ulcer occurrence and developed recurrence 2 weeks after surgery.
Conclusions Self-induced nasal ulceration remains a difficult condition to diagnose and treat. Readily treatable conditions should be excluded, and diagnostic workup should include tissue biopsy and laboratory studies. Patients with TTS may have associated ocular findings, and those who do should be referred for ophthalmologic consultation. Surgical reconstruction can be considered in the highly motivated patient with TTS; however, delayed ulcer recurrence is common. Patients with FD should be treated primarily with local wound care and referred for psychiatric intervention. We strongly recommend nasal prosthetic devices as the primary means of aesthetic correction and discourage surgical repair in the patient with FD.