Diffuse sclerosing variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma: a study of fine needle aspiration cytology in 20 patients

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A diffuse sclerosing variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (DSV-PTC) is a rare variant and reports describing the cytological findings are few.

Patients and Methods:

We studied 24 cytological samples from thyroid fine needle aspirates of 20 patients with DSV-PTC. The specimens were taken from 14 non-nodular lesions and 10 nodules.


All aspirates taken from both non-nodular lesions and nodules had sufficient cellularity. The carcinoma cells frequently (70–100%) appeared as solid cell balls and hollow balls, and showed a hobnail pattern, squamous differentiation, septate cytoplasmic vacuoles and large unilocular vacuoles. Most of the carcinoma cells seem to be taken from the lumen of dilated lymph vessels. Ground glass nuclear chromatin, intranuclear cytoplasmic inclusions and grooved nuclei were infrequent (50% or less). In the background, a large number of lymphocytes and abundant psammoma bodies were almost always seen.


Cytological findings of DSV-PTC are as follows: (1) solid cell balls and/or hollow balls containing lymphocytes; (2) hobnail cells; (3) septate cytoplasmic vacuoles; (4) large unilocular vacuoles; (5) squamous differentiation; (6) abundant psammoma bodies; (7) lymphocytic background; and (8) the absence or relative lack of characteristic nuclear features of papillary carcinoma. When DSV-PTC is suspected by ultrasound examination, the aspiration cytology from a non-nodular area of the thyroid can led us to the diagnosis of the variant.

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