What is the role of lab studies in the diagnosis of oral lichen planus (OLP)?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Jaisri R Thoppay, DDS, MBA, MS; Chief Editor: Jeff Burgess, DDS, MSD  more...
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The history, typical oral lesions, and skin involvement are usually sufficient to diagnose oral lichen planus (OLP), although laboratory studies and biopsy may be required (see Procedures).

Direct immunofluorescence testing can help in distinguishing erosive or the rare bullous oral lichen planus from pemphigus vulgaris, benign mucous membrane pemphigoid, dermatitis herpetiformis, and linear immunoglobulin A (IgA) disease. The most characteristic feature of oral lichen planus is shaggy linear fibrin distribution.

Some studies show an increased incidence of C albicans infection in patients with oral lichen planus. Periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) staining of biopsy specimens and candidal cultures or smears may be performed. However, these tests may be of limited clinical value because oral C albicans is present in more than 70% of the population as a common organism in oral flora. The presence of C albicans and the oral load of this organism do not aid either the diagnosis or the treatment of oral lichen planus.

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