Effect of one session of ER:YAG laser ablation plus topical 5Fluorouracil on the outcome of short-term NB-UVB phototherapy in the treatment of non-segmental vitiligo: a left–right comparative study



This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: ERRATUM Volume 25, Issue 1, 61, Article first published online: 7 January 2009

  • Conflicts of interest:
    None declared.

Tag S. Anbar, M.D., Department of Dermatology, Al-Minya University, Al-Minya, Egypt.
e-mail: taganbar@yahoo.com


Background: NB-UVB phototherapy is a very important modality in treating vitiligo but the treatment course usually exceeds 1 year. Skin ablation with mechanical dermabrasion with 5Fluorouracil (5FU) was introduced to treat vitiligo in 1983. This was modified replacing the mechanical dermabrasion by erbium-YAG (ER:YAG) laser ablation and resulted in better prognosis in periungual vitiligo.

Purpose: In the present study, we are exploring the effect of the use of ER:YAG laser skin ablation and application of 5FU on the outcome of short-term NB-UVB therapy for patients with non-segmental vitiligo (NSV).

Methods: This study included 50 adult patients with a total of 65-paired symmetrical NSV lesions in different body parts. One side was treated with ER:YAG laser ablation, followed by 5FU application before simultaneous NB-UVB therapy of both sides for a maximum period of 4 months. The outcome was then evaluated both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Results: The overall response to therapy was better using the combination therapy. Fifty patients (78.1%) experienced a moderate-marked repigmentation response in the combination group compared with 23.4% in the mono-therapy group. The response was significantly higher when using the combination therapy in different body parts (P value is <0.05), except for feet lesions, which were better but not statistically significant (P value=0.15). Tolerable pain during ablation or at sites of 5FU application was reported in all cases. Transient hyperpigmentation occurred in 30% of cases and 3.1% of lesions healed by a transient slate blue color. Half of the treated periungual lesions showed a temporary tiny brownish spot on nail plates and Köebnerization was not detected in any patient.

Conclusion: We concluded that prior use of ER:YAG laser skin ablation, followed by 5FU application before NB-UVB phototherapy for vitiligo is a safe and tolerable technique that improves the outcome of short-term NB-UVB therapy and is expected to increase patient compliance.