Unicystic ameloblastoma: a clinicopathologic study of 33 Chinese patients

Am J Surg Pathol. 2000 Oct;24(10):1385-92. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200010000-00008.


The term unicystic ameloblastoma refers to those cystic lesions that show clinical, radiographic, or gross features of a jaw cyst, but on histologic examination show a typical ameloblastomatous epithelium lining part of the cyst cavity, with or without luminal and/or mural tumor growth. To ascertain the clinicomorphologic spectrum and biologic behavior of this tumor group, the clinicopathologic features of 33 unicystic ameloblastomas from Chinese patients were studied. This series represents approximately 19% of all cases of ameloblastoma accessioned in the authors' hospital during a 15-year period. Twenty-one patients were male and 12 were female, for a total of 33 patients. The age at diagnosis ranged from 8 to 60 years (mean, 25.3 yrs) and peaked at the second and third decades (70%), Thirty tumors (91%) occurred in the mandible and three in the maxilla. Of the 29 patients with a radiographic record, an expansive unilocular radiolucency was seen in 22 cases, and was multilocular in seven cases. Microscopically, all tumors demonstrated a generally monocystic growth pattern. Eight tumors were simple cystic, 10 comprised intraluminal tumor nodules, and the remaining 15 had a conspicuous component of infiltrative tumor islands in the cyst capsule. The cystic tumor linings invariably showed, at least in part, a typical ameloblastomatous pattern that was often accompanied by epithelial areas of various histologic appearance. Follow up of 29 patients revealed no recurrence in less than 4 years of follow up, but did reveal a 35% recurrence rate at more than 4 years of follow up. The average interval to recurrence was approximately 7 years. Recurrence also appeared to relate to histologic subtypes of unicystic ameloblastoma, with those invading the fibrous wall having a rate of 35.7%, but other types having a rate of 6.7%. Despite the fact that unicystic ameloblastoma may, in general, compare favorably with its solid or multicystic counterpart in terms of clinical behavior and response to treatment, the subsets of the maxillary lesions or tumors containing invading islands in the fibrous wall could have a high risk of recurrence. Furthermore, recurrence of unicystic ameloblastoma may be long delayed, and a long-term postoperative follow up is essential to the proper management of these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Ameloblastoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Ameloblastoma / pathology*
  • Ameloblastoma / surgery
  • Child
  • China
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mandibular Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Mandibular Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Mandibular Neoplasms / surgery
  • Maxillary Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Maxillary Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Maxillary Neoplasms / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Odontogenic Cysts / diagnostic imaging
  • Odontogenic Cysts / pathology*
  • Odontogenic Cysts / surgery
  • Radiography
  • Sex Distribution
  • Treatment Outcome