Intraoperative cytology of pituicytomas

Diagn Cytopathol. 2020 Apr;48(4):342-349. doi: 10.1002/dc.24372. Epub 2019 Dec 28.


Background: Pituicytoma is a rare tumor of the sella and suprasellar region. It is common for these tumors to be misdiagnosed radiographically as pituitary adenomas, meningiomas, and craniopharyngiomas. Histologically, pituicytomas are also known to show variable morphology. These factors often complicate intraoperative consultation, especially when tissue is limited.

Methods: A database search (January 1990-June 2019) identified 13 surgically resected pituicytomas that were sent for intraoperative consultation. The intraoperative cytology was reviewed by two pathologists, and both squash preparations/smears and touch preparations were included.

Results: The cytological features of pituicytomas were variable. The cytoplasm ranged from fibrillary to fine and wispy. The nuclei were round to ovoid with occasional tumors showing spindled morphology. Small nucleoli were seen in all tumors, and chromatin was fine to vesicular. While squash preparations were cellular and revealed cohesive groups of tumor cells, touch preparations were often paucicellular with the exception of one tumor. The cytological features of pituicytomas are compared to those of other tumors with similar radiographic appearances.

Conclusions: Our findings illustrate the range of cytological features of these rare tumors and highlight the difficulty in making a definitive intraoperative diagnosis. Pituicytomas should be considered in the differential of a sellar/suprasellar lesion with glial and meningioma-like cytological features.

Keywords: cytology; intraoperative; pituicytoma; sellar; smear.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Care*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / surgery