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The panniculitides represent a group of inflammatory diseases of the hypodermis. Otherwise known as subcutaneous adipose tissue, the hypodermis is formed of fat lobules separated by septa of connective tissue through which nerves and blood vessels travel. Any of these structures can be affected in panniculitis. This permits a classification and a clinicopathologic approach to these diseases (Table I), according to the different structures affected by the inflammatory response (fat lobule, connective tissue septa, blood vessels).
The panniculitides represent primary involvement of fat lobules and are also known as lobular panniculitis. Septal hypodermatitis (also called septal panniculitis, especially in the Anglosaxon literature), is mainly represented by erythema nodosum and refers to involvement of the septa between fat lobules.
Panniculitis refers to a group of entities whose prognosis, course and treatment vary. Among the panniculitides, two diseases deserve special attention since they can potentially be fatal : pancreatic cytosteatonecrosis and cytophagic histiocytic panniculitis.
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