Congenital neoplasms of the nonpigmented ciliary epithelium (medulloepithelioma)

Ophthalmology. 1996 Dec;103(12):1998-2006. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(96)30394-1.


Background: Most reports on intraocular medulloepithelioma have been single case descriptions. The authors reviewed ten patients with intraocular medulloepithelioma, discuss some little known clinical features of this entity, and make diagnostic and therapeutic recommendations.

Patients and methods: The records of the authors' patients with histopathologically confirmed medulloepithelioma were reviewed, and the clinical features, diagnostic problems, management, histopathology, and prognosis were assessed.

Results: Of the ten patients, nine were children, ranging in age from 2 months to 10 years, and one patient was 58 years of age at the time of clinical presentation. In seven patients, there was a delay in diagnosis, ranging from 3 to 28 months, and four patients underwent surgery for cataract, glaucoma, or other secondary conditions while the tumor was unsuspected. All patients had a nonpigmented ciliary body mass and a notched or subluxated lens, and six had neovascular glaucoma and evident cysts in the mass. The authors' initial management was enucleation in four patients and local resection in six. Of the six patients managed by local resection, five eventually required enucleation, four because of local tumor recurrence and one because of ocular inflammation and discomfort. Pathologically, nine tumors were classified as malignant (5 teratoid, 4 nonteratoid) and one as benign. In one patient (the adult), metastasis to the parotid gland developed.

Conclusion: Intraocular medulloepithelioma generally occurs in the first decade of life as a nonpigmented ciliary body mass. It has a tendency to cause secondary neovascular glaucoma, a characteristic lens notch and subluxation, and a neoplastic cyclitic membrane. Enucleation is the best treatment for advanced cases. For smaller circumscribed lesions, local resection may be attempted, but such treatment is followed frequently by local recurrence. Although most medulloepitheliomas are cytologically malignant, distant metastasis is uncommon.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cataract Extraction
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ciliary Body / pathology*
  • Epithelium
  • Eye Enucleation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glaucoma, Neovascular / complications
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms, Neuroepithelial / congenital*
  • Neoplasms, Neuroepithelial / pathology*
  • Neoplasms, Neuroepithelial / therapy
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / pathology*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / congenital*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Uveal Neoplasms / therapy