Kikuchi-Fujimoto Disease Mimicking Malignant Lymphoma

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Histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis is a rare, benign entity described independently both by Kikuchi and Fujimoto et al. This disease, which has a broad morphologic spectrum, can readily be mistaken for malignant lym-phoma. Our report on the morphologic features in 10 selected cases of this disease highlights those features that mimicked lymphoma and those that helped us to make an accurate diagnosis. The distinctive features were (a) pathologic areas, which are pale and do not occupy the entire lymph node; (b) preserved sinuses in the uninvolved areas; (c) prominent mottling by histiocytes or transformed lymphoid cells in the nonpathologic areas; (d) frequent absence of overt necrosis; (e) presence of benign histiocytes with moderate to marked nuclear irregularities and scanty to moderate cytoplasm that resembled cleaved cells; (f) variable amounts of nuclear debris, usually extracellular; (g) presence of so-called plasmacytoid T cells at the periphery of or immediately outside the pathologic areas; (h) moderate numbers of mitotic figures and transformed lymphoid cells of medium and large size (immunoblasts); and (i) absence of inflammatory and granulomatous reaction. Because overt necrosis is often absent and histiocytes resemble cleaved cells, we support the suggestion that this entity should be called “Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease” rather than “histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis.”

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