Which histologic findings are characteristic of struma ovarii?

Updated: Mar 08, 2019
  • Author: Lisa Rubinsak, MD; Chief Editor: Michel E Rivlin, MD  more...
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Answer

On gross examination, the struma is brown or green-brown and solid, but it can also be partly or entirely cystic, filled with gelatinous fluid. The struma is rarely bilateral. Most strumal tissue is not functionally active, and cases associated with thyrotoxicosis can be due to autoimmune stimulation of the normal thyroid gland.

Pathological examination reveals thyroid tissue as the major component of the mass, and is most commonly found in a teratoma. Thyroid tissue may be papillary, follicular, or mixed pattern, and it can include elements of mucinous cystadenocarcinoma, Brenner tumor, carcinoid, or melanoma. Birefringent crystals of calcium monohydrate are present in most patients, which is considered specific for tumors of thyroid origin. Immunohistochemical staining for thyroglobulin, triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4) can confirm the diagnosis.

Malignancy is defined by histological features of the tumor including cellular atypia and hyperplasia, nuclear pleomorphism, mitotic activity, and invasion into surrounding vessels or the ovarian capsule. In a case cohort of 118 patients with struma ovarii, Wei et al found that papillary thyroid carcinoma and stromal carcinoid were the most common well differentiated malignancies found arising in struma ovarii [11] .

Currently, the pathological criteria used in diagnosing thyroid carcinoma are widely accepted as the standard in diagnosing malignant struma ovarii. [4] However, there is still controversy over the defining characteristics of a malignant struma ovarii tumor. A blinded analysis of 19 histologic characteristics of thyroid tumors in 60 clinically benign and 26 clinically malignant struma ovarii cases found the majority of characteristics to be similar in both types of tumors. The clinical outcome of struma ovarii is unpredictable and cannot be predicted based on histologic features. [12]


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