Persistent and recurrent blue nevi

Am J Dermatopathol. 1999 Dec;21(6):506-17. doi: 10.1097/00000372-199912000-00002.


Persistence of common melanocytic nevi has been fairly well characterized, clinically and histologically. In contrast, persistence of blue nevi has been reported infrequently. To define this entity better, nine cases of biologically persistent and clinically recurrent blue nevi are described. The persistent lesions in four cases were spindle-fascicular blue nevi; one showed senescent or "ancient" change and one had additional deep penetrating/epithelioid blue nevus features with atypical changes worrisome for malignancy. These changes included increased cellularity, cellular pleomorphism, mitotic figures, and a lymphocytic infiltrate. Three were biphasic dendritic-sclerotic/spindle-fascicular blue nevi, one of which had atypical changes. One case was a dendritic-sclerotic ("common") blue nevus. The original histology in one case was unavailable, but the recurrence was a combined blue nevus. The interval from initial biopsy to biopsy of the recurrent lesion was often longer (mean 2.7 years) for recurrent blue nevi than for recurrent common compound or intradermal melanocytic nevi. In addition, in contrast to recurrent common melanocytic nevi, the recurrence, in at least one case, extended beyond the scar of the original excision. These cases demonstrated that blue nevi of all histiotypes and combinations are capable of persistence with clinical recurrence. The persistence usually was histologically similar to the original, but in some cases was more "cellular" because, for the most part, the excisions of the persistent lesion revealed a deeper spindle-fascicular ("cellular") component not evident in the original superficial biopsy. In two cases, the original blue nevus appeared completely banal, but the persistent/recurrent lesions were histologically distinct and demonstrated atypical histologic features. Yet, follow-up (average 3.7 years) supports benign biology. Clinical recurrence is often associated with malignant transformation in blue nevus, but this series demonstrates that malignant tumor progression is not necessarily the case. In the absence of necrosis en mass, marked cytologic atypia, and frequent mitotic figures, the described atypical morphologic parameters in previously biopsied small blue nevi are probably reactive and "pseudomalignant." Awareness of this potential change may avoid diagnostic and prognostic errors.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Nevus, Blue / pathology*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*