Journal of Cytology
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 174-175
Incidental diagnosis of filariasis in association with carcinoma of gall bladder: Report of a case evidenced on ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology with review of the literature

Department of Pathology, Bankura Sammilani Medical College, Bankura, West Bengal, India

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Date of Web Publication29-Nov-2014


Lymphatic filariasis is endemic in India and South-East Asia. Detection of microfilaria is infrequently reported during cytological evaluation of various lesions or body cavity fluids. Microfilariae in cytological smears of few benign and malignant neoplasms have also been reported. Here we present a very rare case of presence of microfilariae in a smear from ultrasound guided fine-needle aspiration of gallbladder adenocarcinoma. The present patient is probably the second reported case in the literature harboring occult filariasis in association with gallbladder carcinoma. Though it is a chance finding, cytology can be an effective tool for detection of asymptomatic filariasis helping to pave the way of disease eradication.

Keywords: Fine needle aspiration cytology; gallbladder carcinoma; microfilaria

How to cite this article:
Sinha R, Sengupta S, Pal S, Adhikari A. Incidental diagnosis of filariasis in association with carcinoma of gall bladder: Report of a case evidenced on ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology with review of the literature. J Cytol 2014;31:174-5

How to cite this URL:
Sinha R, Sengupta S, Pal S, Adhikari A. Incidental diagnosis of filariasis in association with carcinoma of gall bladder: Report of a case evidenced on ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology with review of the literature. J Cytol [serial online] 2014 [cited 2022 May 24];31:174-5. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Filariasis is a chronic disabling parasitic disease, prevalent in south Asia and Africa. [1],[2] In India filarial infections are commonly caused by two closely related nematodes-Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi. [1],[3] W. Bancrofti is causative agent for 98% cases of lymphatic filariasis and B. malayi is for the rest 2%. [3] The disease mainly affects the lymphatics of lower limbs, spermatic cord, epididymis and retroperitoneal lymphatics, etc. [1] Though India is an endemic region for filariasis, still finding microfilaria in fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) smears is quite unusual. [4] Probability of coexistence of microfilaria and neoplastic lesion is also very low. Here, we are reporting a rare case, in which microfilaria were detected in an ultrasound guided fine-needle aspirate of gallbladder lump diagnosed as gallbladder adenocarcinoma.

   Case Report Top

A 55-year-old female patient was admitted in the surgery ward of our institute with complaints of pain abdomen, anorexia, weakness and weight loss for last 1 month. Ultrasonography (USG) of the abdomen revealed heterogeneous mass in gallbladder fossa without any focal hepatic lesion. Computed tomography scan abdomen showed a gallbladder mass with retroperitoneal lymphadenopathy. USG guided FNAC was done under aseptic condition from gall bladder mass with a 26 gauge needle fitted to a 10 mL disposable syringe. Aspirate from the gallbladder mass was smeared on glass slides, and air dried. The smears were stained by Leishman-Giemsa stain. Microscopic examination of smears revealed hypercellular smears with loose clusters of malignant epithelial cells in acinar and papillary pattern [Figure 1]a. In one of the smear, along with these tumor cells microfilariae of W. bancrofti were found [Figure 1]b. It was diagnosed by sheathed appearance having multiple, coarse, discrete nuclei extending from the head to tail except at the small terminal portion of the caudal end. It was differentiated from B. malayi by its smooth appearance (without kinking) and its tail end lacking nuclei. Based on the above findings a diagnosis of gallbladder adenocarcinoma with microfilaria of Wuchereria was offered. Later on, peripheral blood was collected for routine examination. Repeated peripheral blood smear examination failed to demonstrate any microfilaria or eosinophilia.
Figure 1: (a) Computed tomography scan image showing gall bladder mass with liver invasion. (b) Smear shows clusters of atypical pleomorphic glandular epithelial cells having large nuclei with nuclear membrane irregularity and prominent nucleoli (Leishman and Giemsa stain, x400). (c) Smear from the gall bladder aspirate shows microfi laria of Wuchereria bancrofti (Leishman and Giemsa stain, ×400)

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   Discussion Top

Lymphatic filariasis was considered eradicable or potentially eradicable disease by international task force for disease eradication. [5] W. bancrofti completes its life cycle in two hosts. Man is the definitive and mosquito is the intermediate host. [6] Adult worms live in lymph nodes where the gravid females release microfilariae, which circulate in the peripheral circulation.

Bancroftian filariasis causes a wide range of clinical manifestation. Acute phase is characterized by fever, lymphangitis, lymphadenitis, epididymo-orchitis and funniculitis. Chronic stage is manifested as lymphadenopathy, lymphedema, hydrocele and elephantiasis. A significant number of infected individuals remain asymptomatic throughout their lives. [7] Various workers reported presence of microfilaria in almost all types of body fluids. Often the findings were incidental, detected in asymptomatic patients. Microfilaria is detected by FNAC at different unusual sites like breast, thyroid, lymph nodes, liver, lung, salivary glands, breast, cutaneous nodules, soft tissue nodule, oral and skin ulcers and also in bone marrow aspirates, joint aspirates and other body fluids. [8]

Coexistence of microfilaria with various neoplasms (hemangioma of liver, Ewing's sarcoma of bones, squamous cell carcinoma of maxillary antrum, anaplastic astrocytoma of thalamus, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, dentigerous cyst, carcinoma breast, and cervical carcinoma) has been reported by different cytopathologists. [9] To the best of our knowledge, the only other case documenting association of filariasis with gallbladder carcinoma has been reported by Jha et al. [9]

   Conclusion Top

Microfilaria can be demonstrated cytologically in clinically unsuspected cases. As these asymptomatic cases may harbor infection, detection of the carrier is a major challenge during eradication of filariasis. We are presenting a case of asymptomatic filariasis in association with gallbladder carcinoma not only due to rarity of the association but also to stress that cytology can be effective tool for detection of silent carriers helping in disease eradication.

   References Top

Kaur R, Phillip KJ, Masih K, Kapoor R, Johnny C. Filariasis of the breast mimicking inflammatory carcinoma. Lab Med 2009;40:683-5.  Back to cited text no. 1
Park K. Text Book of Preventive and Social Medicine. 22 nd ed. India: M/S Banarsidas Bhanot Publisher; 2013. p. 245-50.  Back to cited text no. 2
Phukan JP, Sinha A, Sengupta S, Bose K. Cytodiagnosis of filariasis from a swelling of arm. Trop Parasitol 2012;2:77-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Sivakumar S. Role of fine needle aspiration cytology in detection of microfilariae: Report of 2 cases. Acta Cytol 2007;51:803-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Sabesan S, Raju HK, Srividya A, Das PK. Delimitation of lymphatic filariasis transmission risk areas: A geo-environmental approach. Filaria J 2006;5:12.  Back to cited text no. 5
Arora DR, Arora B. Medical Parasitology. 2 nd ed. Delhi: SDR; 2005. p. 184-90.  Back to cited text no. 6
Nutman TB, Kumaraswami V. Regulation of the immune response in lymphatic filariasis: Perspectives on acute and chronic infection with Wuchereria bancrofti in South India. Parasite Immunol 2001;23:389-99.  Back to cited text no. 7
Pantola C, Kala S, Agarwal A, Khan L. Microfilaria in cytological smears at rare sites coexisting with unusual pathology: A series of seven cases. Trop Parasitol 2012;2:61-3.  Back to cited text no. 8
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Jha A, Shrestha R, Aryal G, Pant AD, Adhikari RC, Sayami G. Cytological diagnosis of bancroftian filariasis in lesions clinically anticipated as neoplastic. Nepal Med Coll J 2008;10:108-14.  Back to cited text no. 9

Correspondence Address:
Subrata Pal
Gobindanagar, Kenduadihi, Bankura, West Bengal
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9371.145662

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