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Acta Cytol. 1992 May-Jun;36(3):333-7.

Significance of pericellular lacunae in cell blocks of effusions.

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Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


A retrospective study was conducted to assess the usefulness of pericellular lacunae in cell block sections of serous effusions in diagnosis. From January to December 1988, 286 cell blocks were prepared in our laboratory from pleural, pericardial and peritoneal fluids; 62 of them were excluded from this study because of inadequate cellularity, diagnostic uncertainty or lack of a proteinaceous background. The remaining consisted of 148 benign effusions from 128 patients and 76 malignant effusions from 56 patients. A single specimen from each patient was selected and reviewed to assess the presence and number of pericellular lacunae and to determine the relationship of this feature to cell arrangement (single cells versus cell clusters). Pericellular lacunae were found in 42 (75%) of the malignant effusions as compared to 41 (32%) of benign specimens. In the majority of malignant cases with lacunae, this feature was associated with greater than two-thirds of the cells, whereas in benign cases, when present, it was seen in less than one-third of the cells. Neoplasms characterized by large cell clusters more frequently had lacunae than did those with small groups or single cells. Lacunae were not evident in cases of malignant melanoma and lymphoma. We conclude that although pericellular lacunae are more often associated with malignant cells, their presence in itself cannot be used as a reliable indicator of malignancy in body cavity fluids.

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