Background: Benign cystic teratomas are relatively common tumors in reproductive age women, but can occur at any age. While the incidence of malignant elements in a teratoma is low (approximately 1-2%), the survival of patients with immature teratoma is poor. Definitive diagnosis is mandatory.
Case: We describe a case of a 13-year-old African American female, gravida 0, presenting with a large pelvic mass, determined to be a benign cystic teratoma by intra-operative frozen section. However, due to the size of the tumor and the preponderance of neural elements we performed a full surgical staging procedure (excluding hysterectomy and complete removal of adnexa). The final pathology report revealed foci of immature neural tissue, with a final diagnosis of an immature cystic teratoma Stage Ia.
Conclusion: Foci of immature neural elements can be readily missed on frozen section, especially with a large tumor. Full surgical staging at the time of initial laparotomy is justified when encountering an apparently mature cystic teratoma with a preponderance of neural elements on frozen section.