11 November 2008 – Case of the Month #1


This is our first Dermatology Case of the Month.  These cases can also be accessed by clicking on the Case of the Month button on the left hand side of our Home Page.  This email is only sent to those who requested to be on this list in writing or by email.  To view the images or references, you must click on the links in blue.


To subscribe or unsubscribe, email NatPernick@Hotmail.com indicating subscribe or unsubscribe from Case of the Month.  We do not sell, share or use your email address for any other purpose.  We also maintain email lists to receive a biweekly update of new Dermatology Jobs and Practice Listings added to our Jobs page, a monthly email of new Dermatology Books, and a monthly email of Website news.  You must subscribe or unsubscribe separately to these email lists.


This case was contributed by Dr. Peter Morawiecki, Great Lakes Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, Illinois (USA).  We invite you to contribute a Case of the Month by sending an email to NatPernick@Hotmail.com with a clinical history and any relevant images (clinical, dermoscopy, microscopic, immunostains, EM, etc.) that may be helpful.  Please only send cases with a definitive diagnosis. 


Dermatology Case of the Month #1


A 19 year old man had a few month history of a 0.5 cm subcutaneous, firm, grey lump on the right wrist.  It was clinically suspected to be an epidermal cyst.

Micro images:  low power #1;  #2;  #3

                             medium power #1#2 

                             high power #1;  #2;  #3


What is your diagnosis?

























Cellular blue nevus




Blue nevi appear to arise from the arrested migration of immature melanocytes in the dermis.  They are uncommon and are usually diagnosed in adults, but may become apparent in early childhood or even at birth.  Their blue color (clinically) is due to the Tyndall effect of selective absorption of parts of the light spectrum by deeply located (dermal) melanin pigment, which is usually abundant.  There are several types of blue nevi, including common, cellular, atypical cellular, epithelioid and malignant.


The cellular blue nevus most commonly involves the buttock and sacrococcygeal areas, but may also involve the scalp, face, hands and feet.  It is considered benign, but may rarely recur or involve regional lymph nodes (Eur J Dermatol 2008;18:586).  Unfortunately, no specific features have been identified to indicate whether cellular blue nevi will have aggressive behavior.


Cellular blue nevi are usually greater than 1.5 cm with intense pigmentation.  Microscopically, they consist of a well circumscribed collection of interweaving fascicles with increased cellularity and infiltration into the subcutaneous tissue.  Heavily pigmented spindle and dendritic cells alternate with clear cells.  The cells have finely eosinophilic or clear cytoplasm, with vesicular nuclei and small nucleoli.  They may rarely be amelanotic (AJSP 2002;26:1493).  The margins are usually pushing.  There is no/minimal atypia, no nuclear pleomorphism, no epidermal invasion, no peripheral inflammation, no necrosis and no/minimal mitotic figures.  However, scalp lesions may exhibit intracranial extension.


Cellular blue nevi, as well as common blue nevi, are immunoreactive for melanocytic stains, such as S100, HMB45 and MelanA/Mart1.  Treatment consists of simple excision.


The differential diagnosis includes atypical cellular blue nevi, which exhibit either atypia insufficient for a diagnosis of malignancy or a mitotic rate of less than 2 per square millimeter.  They are also treated with conservative excision.  The differential diagnosis may also include malignant blue nevi, which are very rare melanomas that are highly aggressive and may metastasize and cause death.  They either have malignant cytology with a benign blue nevi component, or appear benign at low power but have infiltrative borders, necrosis, mitotic figures or atypia at higher power (AJSP 2001;25:316)


References: DermatologyOutlines.com-Skin Melanocytic tumors chapter




Nat Pernick, M.D.
PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.
30100 Telegraph Road, Suite 408
Bingham Farms, Michigan (USA) 48025
Telephone: 248/646-0325
Fax: 248/646-3119
Email: NatPernick@Hotmail.com


Websites: www.PathologyOutlines.com and www.DermatologyOutlines.com