Journal of Cytology
Home About us Ahead of print Instructions Submission Subscribe Advertise Contact e-Alerts Login 
Users Online:1203
  Print this page  Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size

 Table of Contents    
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 84-85
Cytological diagnosis of primary cardiac diffuse large B cell lymphoma

1 Department of Pathology, CHU Habib Bourguiba, Sfax, Tunisia
2 Department of Pathology and Oncology, CHU Habib Bourguiba, Sfax, Tunisia

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication21-Feb-2013

How to cite this article:
Charfi S, Charfi R, Mnif H, Sellam- Boudawara T. Cytological diagnosis of primary cardiac diffuse large B cell lymphoma. J Cytol 2013;30:84-5

How to cite this URL:
Charfi S, Charfi R, Mnif H, Sellam- Boudawara T. Cytological diagnosis of primary cardiac diffuse large B cell lymphoma. J Cytol [serial online] 2013 [cited 2020 Jul 15];30:84-5. Available from:


We report the case of a 60-year-old immunocompetent man with no past medical history who was referred to cardiology department complaining of dyspnea. Chest radiography showed cardiomegaly and bilateral pleural effusions. Transthoracic echocardiography revealed a 51 × 50 mm mass occupying the right ventricle, extending to the tricuspid valve. Computed tomography scan showed an intracardiac mass measuring 66 × 53 mm with enhancement after contrast injection and pericardial effusion. Patient was lost to follow-up and readmitted 20 days later. Transthoracic echocardiography demonstrated pericardial effusion of 35 mm with signs of tamponade. He underwent urgent pericardial drainage which returned 600 cm 3 of hemorrhagic fluid. Cell blocks were prepared from the effusion fluid specimen. Cytological examination of the pericardial fluid revealed hypercellular material with monotonous medium to large sized round cells mostly dispersed. Cells showed scant cytoplasm; nuclei were rounded with open chromatin and sometimes small nucleoli [Figure 1]a. The background showed scattered mesothelial cells. The initial cytological impression was large cell lymphoma. On immunocytochemistry tumor cells were strongly and diffusely positive for CD20 [Figure 1]b. Neoplastic cells were negative for CD3, keratin and calretinin. The diagnosis of effusion fluid involved by diffuse large B cell lymphoma was considered. An emergency thoracotomy was performed. The tumor had infiltrated the right atrium, the atrioventricular septum and the right ventricle. Surgical resection of the mass was incomplete. Histological exam confirmed the cytological diagnosis of diffuse large B cell lymphoma.
Figure 1: (a) Pericardial fluid on cell block: large atypical cells with round to irregular nuclear contours, coarsely clumped chromatin and inconspicuous nucleoli. The background showed scattered inflammatory cells (H and E, x400). (b) Immunocytochemical study on cell block: diffuse and intense staining of neoplastic cells with CD20 (IHC, x400)

Click here to view

Primary cardiac lymphoma (PCL) is defined as an extranodal lymphoma exclusively or mainly located in the heart and/or pericardium. PCL account for only 1.3% of all cardiac tumors and for less than 1% of extranodal lymphoma. [1] PCL is rapidly evolutive and is considered as an oncologic emergency. [2] This justifies rapid diagnostic procedure in the presence of clinical and radiological suspicion. Pericardial effusion is present in 58% of PCL. It's drainage can have both palliative and diagnosis purposes. [2],[3],[4] In the review of Ceresoli et al., [2] cytological diagnosis of PLC is obtained in only 67%. The review of Ikeda et al., [3] shows, that only 8 from 39 cases were diagnosed based on cytological examination of pericardial effusion. Cytological features include atypical lymphoid cells, monomorphic population of large cells or dissociated small round cells. The differential diagnosis includes benign reactive lymphocytosis and other neoplasms. Immunocytochemical staining is primordial to confirm the lymphoid lineage. Cytogenetic analysis and polymerase chain reaction can also be performed. [2] In the review of Petrich et al., [5] the most common lymphoma subtype was diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), with 113 reports. Other reported subtypes constituted fewer than 10% each (Burkitt, T-cell lymphoma, small lymphocytic lymphoma, and plasmablastic lymphoma). Treatment options includes surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. [5] The overall response rate is 59% and the median over all survival is approximately 12 months. [5]

Primary cytological diagnosis of lymphoma in pericardial effusions is possible once the diagnosis is considered. Awareness amongst cytopathologists, that pericardial effusion can be the first manifestation of lymphoma should initiate the correct differential diagnosis and the use of confirmatory ancillary studies.

   References Top

1.Chalabreysse L, Berger F, Loire R, Devouassoux G, Cordier JF, Thivolet-Bejui F. Primary cardiac lymphoma in immunocompetent patients: A report of three cases and review of the literature. Virchows Arch 2002;441:456-61.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Ceresoli GL, Ferreri AJ, Bucci E, Ripa C, Ponzoni M, Villa E. Primary cardiac lymphoma in immunocompetent patients: Diagnostic and therapeutic management. Cancer 1997;80:1497-506.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Ikeda H, Nakamura S, Nishimaki H, Masuda K, Takeo T, Kasai K, et al. Primary lymphoma of the heart: case report and literature review. Pathol Int 2004;54:187-95.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Nascimento AF, Winters GL, Pinkus GS. Primary cardiac lymphoma: clinical, histologic, immunophenotypic, and genotypic features of 5 cases of a rare disorder. Am J Surg Pathol 2007;31:1344-50.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Petrich A, Cho SI, Billett H. Primary cardiac lymphoma: an analysis of presentation, treatment, and outcome patterns. Cancer 2011;117:581-9.  Back to cited text no. 5

Correspondence Address:
Slim Charfi
Department of Pathology, CHU Habib Bourguiba, Sfax
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9371.107536

Rights and Permissions


  [Figure 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Primary cardiac diffuse large B-cell lymphoma in immunocompetent patients: clinical, histologic, immunophenotypic, and genotypic features of 3 cases
Gwyneth Soon,Guan Wei Ow,Hian Li Chan,Siok Bian Ng,Shi Wang
Annals of Diagnostic Pathology. 2016; 24: 40
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded97    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 1    

Recommend this journal