Accuracy of the clinical diagnosis of chalazion

Eye (Lond). 2004 Feb;18(2):135-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.eye.6700603.


Purpose: A chalazion, localized lipogranulomatous inflammation of the eyelid, may simulate various eyelid lesions. This study was conducted to determine the accuracy of the clinical diagnosis of chalazion and demonstrate the importance of histopathological confirmation of the diagnosis.

Methods: Histopathological diagnoses of 1060 cases with the clinical diagnosis of chalazion, submitted to the Henry C Witelson Ophthalmic Pathology Laboratory and Registry between September 1993 and December 2001, were retrospectively evaluated. Discrepancies between clinical and histopathological diagnoses were classified.

Results: A total of 1033 (97.4%) of the 1060 cases were clinically diagnosed as primary and the remaining 27 (2.6%) as recurrent chalazions. Agreement was noted between clinical and histopathological diagnoses in 992 (93.6%) cases. Of the 68 (6.4%) clinically misdiagnosed cases, 15 (1.4%) were found to be malignant, two (0.2%) premalignant, and 51 (4.8%) benign conditions. Sebaceous cell carcinoma was the most commonly missed malignancy (12 cases, 1.1%) followed by basal cell carcinoma (three cases, 0.3%). Premalignant lesions, which masqueraded as chalazion, were chronic inflammation with cellular atypia and mitotic figures (two cases, 0.2%). Of these 17 cases with premalignant and malignant histopathologies, only six (35.3%) had a clinical diagnosis of recurrent chalazion, whereas the others (64.7%) were primary cases. Of the various benign conditions that were misdiagnosed as chalazion, different types of chronic inflammation (24 cases, 2.2%) were the most frequent.

Conclusions: A number of different benign, premalignant, and malignant conditions may clinically masquerade as a chalazion. Delayed diagnosis and treatment of sebaceous cell carcinoma, which is the most frequently missed malignancy, may be life threatening for the patient. Therefore, all chalazion specimens, primary or recurrent, should be submitted for histopathological examination.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma, Sebaceous / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / pathology
  • Chalazion / diagnosis*
  • Chalazion / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Eyelid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies