Shailaja Prabhala1, Ashok Kumar Deshpande2, Madhusudan Reddy3, Ramamurti Tanikella

INTRODUCTION: Cytology of cutaneous lesions can be used for preliminary and rapid diagnosis of many skin diseases. Though the gold standard is a biopsy with or without immunofluorescent studies, the use of simple Tzanck test gives reliable information in many varieties of skin lesions. It is especially useful for cutaneous herpetic lesions and also for early presumptive diagnosis of pemphigus vulgaris.

AIMS: The study was carried out to determine the usefulness of Tzanck test in herpetic lesions, pemphigus vulgaris and other cutaneous lesions.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The present study was a prospective one, carried out over a six month period in the department of pathology at Kamineni Academy of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Hyderabad, from June 2014 to December 2014. A total of twenty-one Tzanck smears were studied. The material was collected in the Dermatology out-patient department by the dermatologist and sent to the laboratory. A Giemsa stain was used for all the smears and examined under the microscope.

RESULTS: There were total 21 cases ranging in age from 3 years to 62 years. There were 11 male and 10 female patients, the male to female ratio being 1.1:1. There were 8 cases of herpes zoster and Tzanck smear was reported positive in 5 cases (62.5%). For pemphigus vulgaris, out of 4 cases, 2 (50%) were reported positive on Tzanck smear. As biopsy was not available for all the cases the histopathological correlation could not be done.

. CONCLUSION: Tzanck smear is a rapid, simple, inexpensive and reliable test which is useful for the diagnosis of cutaneous viral infections like herpes zoster, varicella and molluscum contagiosum. It is also helpful for the presumptive diagnosis of pemphigus vulgaris thereby facilitating early treatment of the patients