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Papillary Tissue Fragments in Cervicovaginal (Pap) Smears: Cytomorphologic Characteristics and Clinicopathologic Significance.
Diagnostic Cytopathology
  • Lisa M Stoll, MD, MPH
  • Michael W Johnson, MD., PhD, Lehigh Valley Health Network
  • Syed Z Ali
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Papillary epithelial fragments (PEFs) are a rarely described architectural feature in cervicovaginal (Pap) smears. Morphologically, PEFs often consist of small, finely branching glandular tissue fragments with varying cytomorphology. This study identified 21 Pap smears (1978-2009) containing PEFs to determine the clinicopathologic significance of such findings. Patients ranged in age from 36 to 81 years (mean, 54 years). The Pap smear diagnoses consisted of 48% overt malignant neoplasms, 24% atypical fragments, and 28% benign entities. The papillary fragments featured a range of cytomorphologies consisting of benign features, mild to marked atypia, and overt malignancy. PEFs were more commonly found (57%) in specimens from patients with significant pathologic outcomes. Hence, the presence of PEFs in a Pap smear should raise concern for a neoplastic process. In smears displaying atypical to malignant cytomorphologic features recommendations for further clinical work-up and/or tissue studies should be made.

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Citation Information

Stoll, L. M., Johnson, M. W., & Ali, S. Z. (2011). Papillary tissue fragments in cervicovaginal (Pap) smears: cytomorphologic characteristics and clinicopathologic significance. Diagnostic Cytopathology, 39(9), 657-662. doi:10.1002/dc.21443