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Am J Surg Pathol. 2000 Sep;24(9):1286-90.

Intravesical adipose tissue: a quantitative study of its presence and location with implications for therapy and prognosis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Emory University Hospital, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Accurate pathologic staging of carcinomas of the urinary bladder involves assessment of invasion by the tumor into the bladder wall and beyond into perivesical soft tissue. The presence of tumor within perivesical soft tissue implies pathologic stage pT3 (AJCC/UICC system, 1997). In traditional textbooks of histology, anatomy, pathology, and in the literature, other than a single case report and a brief reference in another paper, there is no information on the presence of adipose tissue in the lamina propria or muscularis propria of the urinary bladder. Nine hundred forty-three sections from 139 cystectomy specimens were evaluated for the presence, location, and quantity of adipose tissue within the lamina propria and muscularis propria. The histology of the perivesical soft tissues and the nature of its delineation from muscularis propria were also analyzed. Adipose tissue was seen within the lamina propria in 53% (74 of 139) of cystectomies and in 17.6% (166 of 943) of the examined sections. It was located predominantly in the deep lamina propria (at or below the muscularis mucosae) in 81.1% (60 of 74) of the cystectomies and in 91% (151 of 166) of the sections. Within the lamina propria it was predominantly seen as small localized aggregates in 92% (153 of 166) of sections. All cases showed adipose tissue within the muscularis propria. Adipose tissue was identified within the superficial (inner) muscularis propria in 54% (512 of 943) of sections and was predominantly in small aggregates in 80.5% (412 of 512) of sections. It was in moderate to abundant quantities within the deep (outer) muscularis propria in 60.7% (572 of 943) of sections. The perivesical soft tissue was almost exclusively composed of adipose tissue with variable vascularity. Delineation of the perivesical adipose tissue from the deep (outer) muscularis propria was typically indistinct because muscle bundles of the latter haphazardly merged with the perivesical adipose tissue. Based on these findings, we conclude that adipose tissue is frequently present in the lamina propria and muscularis propria of the urinary bladder wall, and is usually scant in the former location and frequently abundant in the latter. Awareness of the high frequency of adipose tissue within the urinary bladder wall has prognostic and therapeutic implications. In transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) specimens, misinterpretation of tumor infiltrating adipose tissue within lamina propria (pT1) as perivesical soft tissue involvement (pT3) may potentially result in unwarranted aggressive management. Substaging of muscle invasive tumors should be performed in cystectomy specimens only, because the junction of muscularis propria and the perivesical adipose tissue is typically ill-defined. Muscularis propria adipose tissue in TURBT specimens may be erroneously assumed to be perivesical adipose tissue, potentially leading to overstaging of the primary tumor.

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