Review Article| Volume 130, ISSUE 4, P398-401, October 2020

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Thalidomide use in the management of oromucosal disease: A 10-year review of safety and efficacy in 12 patients


      Thalidomide is an effective systemic agent in the management of ulcerative oromucosal conditions. However, its clinical use is limited because of its known adverse effect profile, including teratogenicity, peripheral neuropathy, and thromboembolic risk. The aim of this study was to review the efficacy and safety of thalidomide over a 10-year period in an Oral Medicine specialty clinic.

      Study Design

      Clinical records of the Oral Medicine Department at the Royal National ENT and Eastman Dental Hospitals (London, UK) were retrospectively reviewed for patients prescribed thalidomide between 2009 and 2019 for the management of oromucosal ulceration. Twelve eligible patients were identified. Data on patient response to treatment and major/minor adverse events were obtained from their clinical and electrophysiologic records.


      A complete remission rate was noted in 50% (6 of 12) patients treated for recurrent aphthous stomatitis, HIV-related ulceration and oral Crohn disease. A thalidomide-induced neuropathy rate of 41.7% (5 of 12) was detected by electrophysiology testing, however clinical symptoms of neuropathy were only described by 3 subjects. No other major adverse effects were reported.


      Thalidomide demonstrates a good efficacy-to-safety ratio in the management of oromucosal ulceration over a prolonged treatment period. Interval electrophysiologic testing is essential to monitor for thalidomide-induced neuropathy. In this cohort, neuropathy does not appear to be a dose-dependent outcome.
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