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Ophthalmology. 1994 Apr;101(4):718-27.

Microcirculation architecture of melanocytic nevi and malignant melanomas of the ciliary body and choroid. A comparative histopathologic and ultrastructural study.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Iowa, Iowa City.



This study was designed to (1) describe the vascular patterns of ciliary body and choroidal nevi by light microscopy, (2) compare the vascular ultrastructure of nevi with vessels of the normal uvea and uveal melanomas, and (3) compare the behavior of ciliochoroidal melanomas with and without a nevus-like vascular architecture.


After delineating the vascular patterns of 23 choroidal and ciliary body nevi by light microscopy, the authors identified 49 melanomas that had the same vascular patterns as nevi from a previously published series of 234 uveal melanomas. The survival of these 49 patients who had melanomas with a nevus-like vascular architecture was compared with the 185 patients who had melanomas that lacked this vascular profile.


By light microscopy, the only vascular patterns identified in nevi are "normal" vessels, zones of avascularity ("silent" pattern), straight, and parallel vessels; closed vascular loops and networks were not detected in nevi. By transmission electron microscopy, the vascular basement membrane of malignant melanomas was multilaminar, fragmented, and significantly thicker than in normal eyes or nevi. None of the patients with nevi died of metastatic disease. Fourteen percent of patients whose melanomas had the same vascular profile as nevi died of metastatic disease, whereas 32% of patients whose melanomas had vascular patterns other than those seen in nevi died of metastatic melanoma (P = 0.012).


The microcirculation architecture marks tumor progression in uveal melanocytic lesions by light and electron microscopy. In the spectrum of these lesions, nevi are benign, melanomas that have the same vascular profile as nevi have an intermediate biologic behavior, and melanomas with vascular networks are strongly associated with death due to metastatic disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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