Malakoplakia is a medical condition that presents itself as an inflammation usually in the genitourinary tract, or the area where the reproductive and urinary organs are located. It can also rarely appear in other areas such as the skin, kidney, and the prostate. It usually occurs as a sore, plaque, or a bump. The disease was discovered in 1900s and was observed as a buildup of yellowish mucous in the urinary bladder.
Physicians distinguish malakoplakia with the occurrence of a type of white blood cell called the “Michaelis-Gutmann bodies" (M-G bodies). The origin of the disease may be from a flawed reaction of the macrophages, another type of white blood cells, to bacteria. What happens is that the macrophages do not entirely kill and digest the bacteria, so the latter stays and builds up within the macrophages and deposits calcium and iron, indicated by the M-G bodies. The bacteria buildup results in the plaques and sores. People whose immune systems are weakened, such as those suffering from leukemia, diabetes, or those who have undergone organ transplants, are most likely to experience this inflammatory condition.
Symptoms of malakoplakia, especially in the genitourinary lining, can be hard to detect, as the disease develops internally. Aside from the yellow sores, a person can experience an inflammation in the colon, manifested by diarrhea or some stomachache. Inflammation in the kidney also creates a similar stomach pain on the side, while the rarer malakoplakia on the neck and tongue is more apparent with pink or yellow bumps on the skin and on the tongue. The diagnosis begins by getting a sample of the sores that will undergo biopsy. Results from the biopsy may misdiagnose the sores as a malignant tumor or a type of cancer, so it is important that the results are accurate and that patients get a second opinion.
Usually, the sores associated with malakoplakia are chronic, meaning they may remain in the body for a long time. The good thing is that it does not largely affect the patient or weaken him in any way, but an immediate treatment may be recommended to avoid further complications. Taking antibiotics is the most common treatment for this condition, though surgery may be done to physically remove the plaque buildup.
Malakoplakia is a rare disease and there have been less than 500 cases reported since its discovery. Analysis of the reported cases shows that males are more likely to develop the conditions as compared to females, with a ratio of about 2:1. Caucasians are also more inclined to experience the disease, covering almost 40% of the reported patients, compared to the 19% and 12% reported in African Americans and Asians, respectively.