Cervical thymoma originating in ectopic thymic tissue in a cat

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An 11-year-old female spayed domestic shorthair cat was referred to The Ohio State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital (OSU-VTH) for evaluation of a 6 × 4 × 3.5 cm mass in the left midcervical region causing increased respiratory sounds and lateral deviation of the trachea. A fine needle aspirate of the mass was obtained before referral and the cytology results were compatible with a reactive lymph node. Immunocytochemistry showed increased numbers of CD3+ T lymphocytes and small numbers of CD20+ and CD79a+ medium to large lymphocytes. Differential diagnoses from the referral pathologist were T-cell-rich B-cell lymphoma and feline Hodgkin's-like lymphoma. A subsequent fine needle aspirate performed at the OSU-VTH showed similar results. On flow cytometry the majority of cells were CD3+ T lymphocytes that were double positive for CD4 and CD8 (73%), compatible with either a double-positive (CD4+CD8+) T-cell lymphoma or lymphocytes from ectopic thymic tissue. The mass was surgically removed. Histopathology and immunohistochemistry of the mass revealed a predominant population of CD3+ small lymphocytes and small numbers of medium to large lymphocytes with moderate anisocytosis and anysokaryosis. A population of cytokeratin-positive epithelial cells surrounded small microcystic structures filled with eosinophilic material and structures interpreted as Hassall's corpuscles. These findings were consistent with thymic tissue and a diagnosis of ectopic thymoma was made. PCR results for lymphocyte antigen receptor rearrangement (PARR) were negative. The cat had no evidence of disease 16 months after removal of the mass. To our knowledge this is the first report of an ectopic cervical thymoma in a cat. The clinical and diagnostic features of this unusual case will be useful in helping veterinarians and pathologists obtain a presurgical diagnosis and establish a prognosis for similar lesions.

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