• Users Online: 134
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15-18

Conjunctival papilloma: Clinical features, outcome, and factors related to recurrence

1 Department of Ophthalmology, Taipei Veterans General Hospital; Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
2 Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University; Department of Ophthalmology, Koo Foundation Sun Yat.Sen Cancer Center, Taipei, Taiwan

Date of Submission05-Jan-2018
Date of Acceptance26-Jan-2018
Date of Web Publication26-Mar-2018

Correspondence Address:
Chieh-Chih Tsai
Department of Ophthalmology, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, No. 201, Sec. 2, Shih-Pai Road, Taipei
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tjo.tjo_2_18

Rights and Permissions

PURPOSE: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the clinical features, treatment, and outcome of patients with conjunctival papilloma.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-two patients (22 eyes) with biopsy-proven conjunctival papilloma between January 2005 and January 2015 in a tertiary medical center were retrospectively reviewed. Clinical profiles, treatment, outcome, and factors related to recurrence were evaluated.
RESULTS: There were 16 males (73%) and 6 females (27%), with a mean age of 47 years. The most common location of conjunctival papilloma was the caruncle (43%), followed by palpebral conjunctiva (29%), bulbar conjunctiva (14%), and fornix (14%). Recurrence developed in five patients (22.7%). The risk of postoperative recurrence was significantly related to the presence of bulbar conjunctival papilloma with corneal involvement (P = 0.043) and surgical excision alone (P = 0.039). One case with multiple recurrences developed nonkeratinizing carcinoma. Two young females developed conjunctival papilloma even after receiving human papillomavirus vaccinations.
CONCLUSION: The recurrence of conjunctival papilloma is not uncommon, especially for those patients underwent surgical excision alone. Surgical excision with adjunctive therapy and long-term follow-up is rational for the treatment of conjunctival papilloma.

Keywords: Conjunctiva, human papillomavirus, papilloma, recurrence

How to cite this article:
Huang YM, Huang YY, Yang HY, Tsai CC, Yu WK, Kao SC, Kau HC, Liu CJ. Conjunctival papilloma: Clinical features, outcome, and factors related to recurrence. Taiwan J Ophthalmol 2018;8:15-8

How to cite this URL:
Huang YM, Huang YY, Yang HY, Tsai CC, Yu WK, Kao SC, Kau HC, Liu CJ. Conjunctival papilloma: Clinical features, outcome, and factors related to recurrence. Taiwan J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2018 [cited 2023 Apr 2];8:15-8. Available from: https://www.e-tjo.org/text.asp?2018/8/1/15/226469

  Introduction Top

Conjunctival papilloma is an acquired benign epithelial tumor of the conjunctiva and may manifest as sessile or pedunculated conjunctival mass. A close causal relationship between human papillomavirus (HPV) and conjunctival papilloma has been reported.[1] Conjunctival papilloma often requires surgical excision. Other interventions including perilesional cryotherapy, intralesional or topical interferon-α injection, carbon dioxide (CO2) laser, topical mitomycin-C (MMC), and oral cimetidine have been reported to be as adjunctive treatments.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8] Despite the multiple choices of treatment modalities for treating conjunctival papilloma, recurrences are not uncommon. In this study, we investigate the clinical features, treatment, and postoperative outcome of conjunctival papilloma, to identify the related significant factors for recurrence.

  Materials and Methods Top

We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all patients with biopsy-proven conjunctival papilloma who were treated in the eye clinic of Taipei Veterans General Hospital between January 2005 and January 2015. The Institutional Review Board approved the study. The following data were obtained from patients' charts: age, gender, past history, tumor location, treatment, and outcome. All conjunctival papillomas were completely excised using a no-touch technique by handling only the adjacent, clinically normal tissues to avoid spreading the viral particles. Adjunctive therapies (double freeze-thaw cryotherapy, intraoperative MMC (0.3 mg/mL) application with a cellulose sponge to the involved area after surgical excision, or CO2 laser-assisted resection) were performed in some cases. Comparison between two groups (recurrence vs. nonrecurrence) was done by Chi-square test. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. All statistical analyses were performed using SPSS computer statistical software (version 20.0; SPSS, Chicago, IL, USA).

Ethical approval

The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the local ethics committee of the institute. Informed written consent was obtained from all patients prior to their enrollment in this study.

  Results Top

A total of 22 eyes of 22 patients with conjunctival papilloma were included in our study, with 16 male (72.7%) and 6 female (27.3%) patients [Table 1]. The mean age at initial examination was 47.0 years (range: 14–88 years). The mean age of male patients was 52.0 ± 22.6 years and female patients was 33.5 ± 21.3 years. The age distribution shows a peak in the age group of 21–40 years (50%) [Table 2]. [Table 3] shows that the locations of conjunctival papilloma were mostly on the caruncle (43%), followed by palpebral conjunctiva (29%), fornix (14%), and bulbar conjunctiva (14%). Eight patients (36.4%) underwent surgical excision alone, and 14 patients (63.6%) received surgical excision with adjunctive therapy (cryotherapy in 8 cases, topical MMC in 3 cases, CO2 laser and topical MMC in 1 case, and cryotherapy and topical MMC in 2 cases [Table 1]). All histopathological reports of the surgical specimens revealed typical conjunctival squamous papilloma. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of high-risk HPV (HPV-16, HPV-18, HPV-33, and HPV-45) was negative in all specimens (PCR for low-risk HPV was unavailable in our laboratory). Recurrent conjunctival papilloma developed in five patients (22.7%). Statistical analysis demonstrated that bulbar conjunctival papilloma with corneal involvement (P = 0.043) and surgical excision without adjunctive therapy (P = 0.039) were associated with higher recurrent rate [Table 4]. Case 6 developed recurrence from one eye to both eyes. Case 7 developed multiple recurrences (more than 10 times) after surgical excision in the past 20 years. Finally, a nonkeratinizing carcinoma developed on the caruncle and extended to lacrimal sac.
Table 1: Clinic features, treatment, and outcome of 22 patients with conjunctival papilloma

Click here to view
Table 2: Age distribution of 22 patients with conjunctival papilloma

Click here to view
Table 3: The distribution of conjunctival sites involved in 21* conjunctival papillomas

Click here to view
Table 4: Factors related to recurrence of conjunctival papilloma

Click here to view

  Discussion Top

In the current study, the incidence of conjunctival papilloma was highest among patients between 21 and 40 years (50%), and there was a male predominance (72.7%). This is also the peak age at onset of genital HPV infection in sexually active adults. Our findings are consistent with those in other studies.[9],[10] The most common location of conjunctival papilloma was the bulbar conjunctiva (42%) in Ash et al.'s study and the palpebral conjunctiva (38%) in Sjö et al.'s study, respectively.[9],[11] In our study, the most common site was the caruncle (43%), which is similar to Kaliki et al.'s study with 23% in the caruncle.[10] Possible factors influencing this prevalent location of conjunctival papilloma could be due to the habit of eye rubbing and tear drainage from the superotemporal fornix to the lacrimal lake, resulting in autoinoculation of HPV.[9],[10]

The recurrence rate of conjunctival papilloma has been reported to range between 3% and 27%.[10],[11] In our study, the recurrence rate is 22.7%. Especially, our study showed a higher recurrence rate (50%) in those patients treated with surgical excision alone. It is hard to identify the free margin and depth of conjunctiva papilloma during excision surgery because of conjunctival bleeding and lack of microscopic analysis. Various adjunctive therapeutic modalities such as double freeze-thaw cryotherapy, CO2 laser, oral cimetidine, and topical MMC or interferon α-2b have been suggested to reduce the recurrence rate of conjunctiva papilloma.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11] In our series, the most common treatment modality was surgical excision with adjunctive cryotherapy, and/or topical MMC, and/or CO2 laser, which got a relatively lower recurrence rate (7%) in these patients as compared to those without adjunctive treatment (50%). The double freeze-thaw cryotherapy is a preferred method of adjunctive therapy for squamous cell papillomas with less scarring formation and a relatively lower recurrence rate. MMC, a DNA alkylating agent, can directly disrupt rapid cell proliferation and is indicated for recalcitrant conjunctival papillomas or those refractory to prior multiple treatments. CO2 laser-assisted resection allows for precise tissue excision with less blood loss and trauma to tissue. In the current study, two cases of conjunctival papilloma with bulbar conjunctival and corneal involvement received surgical excision alone, and both had relapse. Ocular surface reconstruction using amniotic membrane following excision of tumor, perilesional cryotherapy, and perilesional injections of interferon α-2b have been shown to be effective treatments for conjunctival papilloma with corneal/limbal involvement.[12],[13],[14]

HPV DNA has been reported to be detected in 58%–92% of conjunctival papillomas, with HPV-6 and HPV-11 being the most common HPV type.[1],[10] In our study, there were two young females developed conjunctiva papilloma even having received prior HPV vaccinations (case 11 and 16). The FDA has approved Gardasil ® (for HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18) for use in females for the prevention of HPV-caused cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers; precancerous cervical, vulvar, vaginal, anal lesions, and genital warts.[15],[16] However, whether HPV vaccination could provide protection against HPV-related conjunctival papilloma still requires further investigation. The PCR of high-risk HPV (HPV-16, HPV-18, HPV-33, and HPV-45) and low-risk HPV (HPV-6, HPV-11, HPV 42, HPV-43, and HPV44) were all negative in both cases. Moreover, other HPV types could also be found occasionally in the conjunctival papilloma, which is not fully protected by the HPV vaccine.

In our series, one case developed a nonkeratinizing carcinoma after multiple recurrences of conjunctival papilloma in the caruncle. Most conjunctival papillomas are benign tumors with a minimal propensity toward malignancy. Rarely, they can undergo malignant transformation, especially for those with inverted growth pattern or recurrence.[17],[18] Long-term surveillance is required for these patients.

  Conclusion Top

Recurrences of conjunctival papilloma are not uncommon. No-touch techniques of surgical excision with cryotherapy and/or other adjunctive therapies can prevent viral dissemination and reduce the tumor recurrence.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interests of this paper.

  References Top

Sjö NC, von Buchwald C, Cassonnet P, Norrild B, Prause JU, Vinding T, et al. Human papillomavirus in normal conjunctival tissue and in conjunctival papilloma: Types and frequencies in a large series. Br J Ophthalmol 2007;91:1014-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
Omohundro JM, Elliott JH. Cryotherapy of conjunctival papilloma. Arch Ophthalmol 1970;84:609-10.  Back to cited text no. 2
Morgenstern KE, Givan J, Wiley LA. Long-term administration of topical interferon alfa-2beta in the treatment of conjunctival squamous papilloma. Arch Ophthalmol 2003;121:1052-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
Falco LA, Gruosso PJ, Skolnick K, Bejar L. Topical interferon alpha 2 beta therapy in the management of conjunctival papilloma. Optometry 2007;78:162-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Schachat A, Iliff WJ, Kashima HK. Carbon dioxide laser therapy of recurrent squamous papilloma of the conjunctiva. Ophthalmic Surg 1982;13:916-8.  Back to cited text no. 5
Jean B, Thiel HJ, Stumper K. CO2 laser vaporization of papilloma of the conjunctiva and eyelids. Fortschr Ophthalmol 1989;86:672-5.  Back to cited text no. 6
Yuen HK, Yeung EF, Chan NR, Chi SC, Lam DS. The use of postoperative topical mitomycin C in the treatment of recurrent conjunctival papilloma. Cornea 2002;21:838-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
Chang SW, Huang ZL. Oral cimetidine adjuvant therapy for recalcitrant, diffuse conjunctival papillomatosis. Cornea 2006;25:687-90.  Back to cited text no. 8
Sjö N, Heegaard S, Prause JU. Conjunctival papilloma. A histopathologically based retrospective study. Acta Ophthalmol Scand 2000;78:663-6.  Back to cited text no. 9
Kaliki S, Arepalli S, Shields CL, Klein K, Sun H, Hysenj E, et al. Conjunctival papilloma: Features and outcomes based on age at initial examination. JAMA Ophthalmol 2013;131:585-93.  Back to cited text no. 10
Ash JE. Epibulbar tumors. Am J Ophthalmol 1950;33:1203-19.  Back to cited text no. 11
Park CY, Kim EJ, Choi JS, Chuck RS. Isolated corneal papilloma-like lesion associated with human papilloma virus type 6. Cornea 2011;30:600-3.  Back to cited text no. 12
Asoklis RS, Damijonaityte A, Butkiene L, Makselis A, Petroska D, Pajaujis M, et al. Ocular surface reconstruction using amniotic membrane following excision of conjunctival and limbal tumors. Eur J Ophthalmol 2011;21:552-8.  Back to cited text no. 13
Chen HC, Chang SW, Huang SF. Adjunctive treatment with interferon alpha-2b may decrease the risk of papilloma-associated conjunctival intraepithelial neoplasm recurrence. Cornea 2004;23:726-9.  Back to cited text no. 14
Garland SM, Steben M, Sings HL, James M, Lu S, Railkar R, et al. Natural history of genital warts: Analysis of the placebo arm of 2 randomized phase III trials of a quadrivalent human papillomavirus (types 6, 11, 16, and 18) vaccine. J Infect Dis 2009;199:805-14.  Back to cited text no. 15
Koutsky LA, Ault KA, Wheeler CM, Brown DR, Barr E, Alvarez FB, et al. A controlled trial of a human papillomavirus type 16 vaccine. N Engl J Med 2002;347:1645-51.  Back to cited text no. 16
Lassalle S, Maschi C, Caujolle JP, Giordanengo V, Hofman P. Inverted conjunctival papilloma: A certainly underestimated high-risk lesion for carcinomatous transformation-a case report. Can J Ophthalmol 2017;52:e30-1.  Back to cited text no. 17
Bredow L, Martin G, Reinhard T, Mittelviefhaus H, Auw-Haedrich C. Recurrent conjunctival papilloma progressing into squamous cell carcinoma with change of HPV-finding during the course. Br J Ophthalmol 2009;93:1437, 1451.  Back to cited text no. 18


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

This article has been cited by
1 Clinical features and factors affecting prognosis and partial deterioration of ocular papilloma: a retrospective study of 298 cases
Huan Jian, Weimin He
Graefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology. 2023;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Conjunctival papilloma treatment outcomes: a 12-year-retrospective study
Wathanee Sripawadkul, Despoina Theotoka, Mike Zein, Anat Galor, Carol L. Karp
Eye. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Bindehautdegenerationen und -neoplasien
Claudia Auw-Hädrich, Laura Gasser, Thomas Reinhard
Augenheilkunde up2date. 2022; 12(02): 105
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Bindehautdegenerationen und -neoplasien
Claudia Auw-Hädrich, Laura Gasser, Thomas Reinhard
Klinische Monatsblätter für Augenheilkunde. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Detection of Human Papillomavirus in Squamous Lesions of the Conjunctiva Using RNA and DNA In-Situ Hybridization
Cornelia Peterson, Rupin N. Parikh, Meleha T. Ahmad, Ashley A. Campbell, Yassine Daoud, Nicholas Mahoney, Sepideh Siadati, Charles G. Eberhart
International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2022; 23(13): 7249
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 Giant Papilloma on the Back of the Knee Joint - A Case Report
M.V. Ravishankar,N.M. Shama Sundar,Pushpalatha K.
Journal of Evolution of Medical and Dental Sciences. 2021; 10(31): 2517
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 Comparative Analysis of Dacryo Cysto-Rhinostomy: External Versus Endoscopic
Joumany Brahim Salem, Mehdi Khamaily, Imane Tarib, Sidi Dahi, Rachid Zarrouk, Yassine Mouzari, Fouad El Asri, Karim Reda, Abdelbarre Oubaaz
European Journal of Medical and Health Sciences. 2020; 2(6)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
8 Update on Diagnosis and Management of Conjunctival Papilloma
Despoina Theotoka,Melina I. Morkin,Anat Galor,Carol L. Karp
Eye and Vision. 2019; 6(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Materials and Me...
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded486    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 8    

Recommend this journal