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Diagn Cytopathol. 1994;10(4):365-9; discussion 369-70.

Fine-needle aspiration biopsy of pilomatrixoma: still a diagnostic trap for the unwary.

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Department of Pathology, Queen Mary Hospital, University of Hong Kong.


Of the 16 cases of fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) of pilomatrixomas reported since 1982, only 25% were correctly diagnosed prior to excision. The most common pitfall encountered was a false-positive or suspicious diagnosis of a carcinoma. All the reported cases had a polymorphous cellular and noncellular composition on low-power examination, including numerous basaloid cells, ghost cells, squamoid cells, foreign body giant cells, mixed inflammatory cells, keratin clumps, and granular debris which might be easily mistaken for a malignant necrotic background. Amongst these, ghost cells were the critical pathognomonic feature. This paper reported a further finding that had been underemphasized in the literature: masses of refractile orangeophilic keratin clumps representing compact sheets and stacks of ghost cells. Their presence should alert the observer to search for the more diagnostic dispersed forms which otherwise might be inconspicuous and easily overlooked.

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