Histopathology of Keratoacanthoma Revisited: Utility of Orificial Size as a Diagnostic Adjunct

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Given the defining histopathologic architecture of keratoacanthoma (KA), the aim of this study was to measure the crateriform orifice (“orificial size”) in histopathologically crateriform lesions to ascertain its utility as an objective diagnostic histopathologic adjunct.


This cross-sectional, retrospective study included 97 cases with a histopathologic diagnosis of KA. We measured the “orificial size” using the ocular micrometer in a BH-2 Olympus microscope at 4× magnification, in a blinded manner with respect to information. Frequency of histopathologic features observed was also recorded.


The average orificial size for different groups was as follows: 2.3 ± 0.2 mm for cases with a clinical presentation of KA/keratotic papule (KP) (n = 30) versus 2.9 ± 0.3 mm for other (n = 67), P = .18. Histopathologic findings in the 2 groups were as follows: crateriform architecture/epithelial lip and sharp demarcation of tumor from stroma (100% in both groups), fibrosis (29/30 vs 64/67), apoptotic keratinocytes (27/30 vs 56/67), dermal islands of “glassy” keratinocytes (26/30 vs 54/67), entrapped elastic fibers (26/30 vs 49/67), and neutrophilic abscesses (11/30 vs 21/670 [P = not significant for all].


Our findings indicate that, in the appropriate clinical setting, a smaller orificial size, although predictive of a KA, in itself is not sufficient for a definitive diagnosis. Given that a major limitation is that this is a function of age of the lesion as orificial size depends on the evolution stage of the neoplasm with the largest diameter often evident in lesions at early stages of regression, for now correlation with histopathologic features such as presence of an epithelial lip, sharp demarcation of tumor from stroma, and fibrosis (present in >95% of cases of KAs) is required.

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