Traditional serrated adenoma (TSA): morphological questions, queries and quandaries

J Clin Pathol. 2016 Jan;69(1):6-11. doi: 10.1136/jclinpath-2015-203452. Epub 2015 Nov 9.


Aim: Traditional serrated adenoma (TSA) is an uncommon type of serrated adenoma that can be a precursor to biologically aggressive colorectal cancer that invokes the serrated (accelerated) pathway. The purpose of this review is to address some of the more contentious issues around nomenclature, diagnostic criteria, histological variants, coexistence with other polyp types, the occurrence of dysplasia and the differential diagnosis.

Results: While the vast majority of TSAs are exophytic villiform polyps composed of deeply eosinophilic cells, flat top luminal serrations and numerous ectopic crypt foci, histological variants include flat TSA, filiform TSA and one composed of large numbers of mucin-containing cells. It is unlikely that there is any biological difference between the histological variants. There is a contention that TSAs are not dysplastic ab initio and that the majority do not show cytological atypia. Two types of dysplasia are associated with TSA. Serrated dysplasia is less well recognised and less commonly encountered than adenomatous dysplasia. TSA with dysplasia must be separated from TSA with coexisting conventional adenoma.

Conclusions: TSA is a characteristic polyp that may be extremely exophytic, flat or composed of mucin-rich cells and is typified by numerous ectopic crypt foci. They may coexist with other serrated polyps and conventional adenomas. Approximately 20-25% will be accompanied by adenomatous dysplasia.


Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyps / classification
  • Adenomatous Polyps / pathology*
  • Biopsy
  • Colonic Polyps / classification
  • Colonic Polyps / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / classification
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / classification
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / pathology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Terminology as Topic