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Hum Pathol. 1995 Dec;26(12):1354-62.

Chordomas of the mediastinum: clinicopathologic, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural study of six cases presenting as posterior mediastinal masses.

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  • 1Arkadi M. Rywlin Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Miami, FL, USA.


Six cases of chordomas presenting as primary posterior mediastinal tumors are described. Three patients were female, and three were male between the ages of 8 and 65 years (mean, 40.6 years). In all cases, the tumors presented radiographically as relatively well-circumscribed, encapsulated soft tissue masses that did not seem to be related to the thoracic or dorsal spine. Only in one case, focal infiltration of bone at the level of T6-T7 was observed at the time of surgery. Histologically, the lesions showed a spectrum of features that ranged from sheets and cords of large cells with abundant vacuolated cytoplasm to small, stellate cells embedded within an abundant mucoid matrix. In one case, the cell population showed more pronounced nuclear atypia with loss of cytoplasmic vacuolization, frequent mitotic figures, necrosis, and solid areas characterized by a perivascular distribution of atypical spindle cells set against a myxoid stroma. Another case showed features of chondroid chordoma, with an immature chondroid-appearing matrix surrounding the atypical tumor cells. Immunohistochemical studies in all cases showed positive staining of the tumor cells with CAM 5.2 and broad-spectrum keratin, epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) and vimentin, and, to a lesser extent, with S-100 protein. Stains for muscle actin, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), and desmin were negative. Ultrastructural examination in two cases showed a spectrum of features that varied from large cells with abundant cytoplasm containing scattered ribosomes, glycogen granules, Golgi apparatti, abundant intermediate filaments, and small lumen formation with immature microvilli to smaller cells with elongated cytoplasmic processes, fewer intermediate filaments, rare desmosome type intercellular junctions, and complexes of mitochondria/rough endoplasmic reticulum. On clinical follow-up, two patients died with metastases to the lungs, chest wall, and liver from 1 to 3 years after diagnosis, and two patients are alive and well without evidence of disease after 3 and 16 years. Chordoma should be entertained in the differential diagnosis of posterior mediastinal tumors. Application of immunohistochemical stains or electron microscopy will be of aid in separating them from other conditions that may histologically closely resemble these lesions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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