What is the pathophysiology of cystic teratoma of the ovary?

Updated: Aug 10, 2020
  • Author: Andrew E Green, MD; Chief Editor: Yukio Sonoda, MD  more...
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Answer

Cystic teratoma

Teratomas are germ cell tumors commonly composed of multiple cell types derived from one or more of the 3 germ layers. Inconsistent nomenclature often confuses discussions of various subtypes of teratomas. The word is derived from the Greek teras, meaning monster, which Virchow coined in the first edition of his book on tumors published in 1863. [12] Teratomas range from benign, well-differentiated (mature) cystic lesions to those that are solid and malignant (immature). Additionally, teratomas may be monodermal and highly specialized. Rarely, within some mature teratomas certain elements (most commonly squamous components) undergo malignant transformation.

In 1831, Leblanc coined the term dermoid cyst in the veterinary literature when he removed a lesion that resembled skin at the base of a horse's skull, which he called a “kyste dermoid.” [13] Both dermoid and teratoma, terms now more than a century old, remain in general use and often are used interchangeably with various preferences among subspecialties. The earliest implications were that dermoids comprised elements similar to skin and its appendages, whereas teratomas had no such limits. Dermoids now are recognized as often being trigeminal and containing practically any type of tissue.

For those who continue to make a distinction, dermoids are tumors that maintain rather orderly arrangements, with well-differentiated ectodermal and mesodermal tissues surrounding endodermal components. Teratomas, specifically solid teratomas, are essentially devoid of organization; thus, the presence of some degree of organization, a high degree of cellular differentiation, and cystic structure differentiates dermoids from teratomas (see the images below). [12]

Mature cystic teratoma of the ovary exhibiting mul Mature cystic teratoma of the ovary exhibiting multiple tissue types.
Mature cystic teratoma of the ovary with hair, seb Mature cystic teratoma of the ovary with hair, sebaceous material, and thyroid tissue.

For more information, see Teratoma, Cystic.


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