Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor of the uterus: a clinicopathologic study of 6 cases emphasizing distinction from aggressive mesenchymal tumors

Am J Surg Pathol. 2005 Oct;29(10):1348-55. doi: 10.1097/01.pas.0000172189.02424.91.


Inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor (IMT) is an indolent spindle cell proliferation that can histologically resemble various malignant mesenchymal neoplasms; however, it generally behaves as a benign or locally recurrent tumor. Most IMTs involve the lung, mesentery, omentum, or retroperitoneum. We report the clinical and pathologic features of six IMTs of the uterus, one of which was included in a previous report, and emphasize the histologic and immunohistochemical features that distinguish IMTs from uterine spindle cell neoplasms that require aggressive treatment. Recently, translocations of the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene and immunohistochemical expression of ALK have been reported in IMTs of various anatomic sites. We compared ALK expression in uterine IMTs with that in uterine mesenchymal neoplasms with which it may be confused. Patients with IMT were between 6 and 46 years of age. None had a history of abdominal surgery; three were multiparous. The IMTs ranged from 1 to 12 cm in maximum dimension. Three grew as polypoid masses that arose in the lower uterine segment, and two of these prolapsed through the cervical os. The three other tumors grew as bulky myometrial masses with focally irregular borders and infiltrated the endometrium, parametrium, or cervical stroma. There were three main microscopic patterns: a hypocellular pattern, a fascicular pattern, and a hyalinized pattern. A lymphoplasmacytic infiltrate was present in all of the tumors, and most had a myxoid background. Mitotic activity ranged from 0 to 2 mitotic figures per 10 high power fields (HPF) except in one tumor that focally had up to 8 mitotic figures per 10 HPF. No nuclear atypia or necrosis was present. Immunohistochemical expression of ALK was present in a cytoplasmic pattern in all IMTs tested. No ALK expression was identified in uterine leiomyoma (n = 7), leiomyosarcoma (n = 6), carcinosarcoma (n = 4), endometrial stromal sarcoma (n = 4), or normal uterine tissues. Follow-up ranging from 1.5 years to 5 years in 4 patients with uterine IMTs revealed no recurrence or metastasis. IMTs should be differentiated from aggressive uterine mesenchymal tumors because they can be treated conservatively and have a more favorable prognosis. ALK expression appears to be of diagnostic value in conjunction with other immunohistochemical stains.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • Myofibroma / metabolism
  • Myofibroma / pathology*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Sarcoma / metabolism
  • Sarcoma / pathology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Uterine Neoplasms / pathology*


  • ALK protein, human
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases