Absence or Presence of High-Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion in Cervical Conization Specimens:  A Clinicopathologic Study of 540 Cases

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Objectives: To explore the implications of cervical conization specimens lacking the targeted high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (negative cone).Methods: We studied 540 conization procedures: 400 positive cones and 140 negative cones. Clinicopathologic features and 2-year follow-up results were reported.Results: Negative cones comprised 22% of procedures triggered by CIN2 or higher biopsies. Procedures triggered by cytology produced much higher percentages of negative cones (37% high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion [HSIL], 46% atypical squamous cells—cannot exclude high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion [ASC-H], and 76% low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion—cannot exclude high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion [LSIL-H]). Upon reviewing negative excision-triggering biopsy and cytology, we downgraded 24 (24%) CIN2 biopsies, three (14%) HSIL, five (83%) ASC-H, and 12 (92%) LSIL-H. One-third of our negative cones can be attributed to overdiagnosis either on biopsy or cytology. Patients with negative cones were older and had smaller excisions, negative colposcopic findings, and negative/equivocal high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV). Within 2 years, 35 (25%) women with negative cones experienced ASCUS or LSIL. Only one (0.7%) recurred as CIN3, a significantly lower percentage than women with positive cones (13%).Conclusions: We advocate careful review of all excision-triggering biopsy and cytology, especially in cases of LSIL-H. Patients with negative cones should be surveyed with cytology and HR-HPV testing.

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