Objective: Malignant effusions due to papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) are rare, but portend a poor prognosis. PTC metastases, although rare, most frequently occur in the lungs and bone. Therefore, differentiating thyroid etiology of malignant effusions from other sites becomes clinically significant in patient management. This study examines morphologic and immunocytochemical findings in 5 cases of malignant effusions with PTC involvement. Study Design: The electronic database at the University of Michigan was searched from January 1, 1995 to December 31, 2014 for malignant pleural effusions with PTC involvement. Clinicopathologic data were obtained from electronic medical records. Cytologic slides were reviewed. Results: Five cases of malignant effusions due to PTC were identified. Characteristic cytologic features of PTC, including ovoid nuclei, irregular nuclear contours, and psammomatous calcifications, were seen. However, the predominant cytologic feature observed was moderate amounts of delicate to vacuolated cytoplasm within the tumor cells. A review of immunocytochemistry demonstrated that all 5 cases showed patchy to diffuse TTF-1 positivity and diffuse positivity for Pax-8. Thyroglobulin only showed focal to patchy positivity in 3 of 5 cases. Conclusion: Given the morphologic features found in our case series, an immunocytochemical workup for the evaluation of involvement of an effusion by a thyroid primary is crucial for accurate diagnosis and appropriate clinical treatment.

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