Utility of Nuclear Morphometry in Effusion Cytology

  • Ambroise, Marie Moses (Department of Pathology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS)) ;
  • Jothilingam, Prabhavati (Department of Pathology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS)) ;
  • Ramdas, Anita (Department of Pathology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS))
  • Published : 2014.08.30


Background: The cytological analysis of serous effusions is a common investigation and yields important diagnostic information. However, the distinction of reactive mesothelial cells from malignant cells can sometimes be difficult for the cytopathologist. Hence cost-effective ancillary methods are essential to enhance the accuracy of cytological diagnosis. The aim of this study was to examine the utility of nuclear morphometry in differentiating reactive mesothelial cells from malignant cells in effusion smears. Materials and Methods: Sixty effusion smears consisting of 30 effusions cytologically classified as malignant (adenocarcinomas) and 30 benign effusions showing reactive mesothelial cells were included in the study. ImageJ was used to measure the nuclear area, perimeter, maximal feret diameter, minimal feret diameter and the circularity. A total of ten representative cells were studied in each case. Results: Significant differences were found between benign and malignant effusions for the nuclear area, perimeter, maximal feret diameter and minimal feret diameter. No significant difference was found for circularity, a shape descriptor. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis revealed that nuclear area, perimeter, maximal feret diameter, and minimal feret diameter are helpful in discriminating benign and malignant effusions. Conclusions: Computerised nuclear morphometry is a helpful ancillary technique to distinguish benign and malignant effusions. ImageJ is an excellent cost effective tool with potential diagnostic utility in effusion cytology.


Image cytometry;Image processing;nucleus;morphometry;cytology


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