Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 3 Aug 2022

Panniculitis (plural: panniculitides 1) is a non-specific histopathological term referring to inflammation of adipose tissue. It most commonly affects subcutaneous fat, although internal forms, e.g., mesenteric panniculitis, are well-known 1,2.

Clinical presentation

Most panniculitides present similarly with multiple reddened nodules, characteristically on the lower extremities. Therefore determining specific causation requires histological study 2.


Panniculitis is traditionally subdivided into two main forms based upon whether it predominantly involves the septa or lobules of the adipose tissue.

  1. septal panniculitis
  2. lobular panniculitis

Although in practice, most forms demonstrate the involvement of both lobules and septa 2. The further subdivision is predicated on whether vasculitis is present; most are non-vasculitic.

A few cutaneous lymphomas mimic panniculitis clinically and histopathologically. However, they are not truly inflammatory, rather malignant diseases in nature.

Septal panniculitis
Lobular panniculitis

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