Crospovidone and Microcrystalline Cellulose: A Novel Description of Pharmaceutical Fillers in the Gastrointestinal Tract

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Crospovidone and microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) are pharmaceutical fillers well known in the pulmonary pathology literature. Fillers are inactive substances incorporated into medications to facilitate drug delivery. By examining 545 consecutive gastrointestinal surgical specimens from 302 patients between September 11, 2015 and October 23, 2015, we identified the fillers in 29 specimens from 26 patients. The control group consisted of an equal number of consecutive site-matched specimens collected during this same time. Pertinent clinicopathologic data were analyzed, and 1 case was subject to special stains. To confirm the histologic diagnosis, a variety of fillers and medications common to the patients were processed. The fillers were found in 9% of all patients, and there were no specific clinicopathologic associations. In the gastrointestinal tract, crospovidone is nonbirefringent and has a coral shape with each segment composed of a pink core and purple coat; MCC is brightly birefringent with matchstick shape and clear color. Identical material was seen in the processed crospovidone and MCC powders, as well as oxycodone-acetaminophen and omeprazole tablets. In summary, crospovidone and MCC are common, biologically inert, and they are most often seen in the small bowel. Their presence outside of the luminal bowel may serve as a surrogate marker for perforation. Awareness of their morphology is important to distinguish fillers from parasites, calcifications, and other medications, particularly those linked to mucosal injury. We report the unique histomorphologic profile of these fillers as a helpful diagnostic aide, and caution that the fillers have slightly divergent features when compared with those described in the lung.

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