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Dilemmas in cytodiagnosis of subcutaneous swellings: mimics and look-alikes of cysticercosis
  1. Ram Nawal Rao1,
  2. N Krishnani1,
  3. Kiran Malhotra1,
  4. B Suresh2,
  5. Ravi Mehrotra3
  1. 1Department of Pathology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India
  2. 2Department of Pathology, Chatrapati Sahu Maharaj Medical University, Lucknow, India
  3. 3Division of Cytopathology, Department of Pathology, Moti Lal Nehru Medical College, Allahabad, India
  1. Correspondence to Professor Dr Ravi Mehrotra, Department of Pathology, Moti Lal Nehru Medical College, 16/2 Lowther Road, Allahabad 211002, India; rm8509{at}


Background Fine needle aspiration (FNA) is the modality of choice in the initial characterisation of subcutaneous swellings. The site, distribution, number and clinical association of such swellings determines to a large extent the clinical diagnoses rendered in these cases.

Aims and Methods 15 unusual cases of subcutaneous cysticercosis, diagnosed by FNA, which clinically simulated diverse aetiologies, are reported.

Results Three cases occurred in patients with known malignancies which were thought to be metastatic deposits. In another nine cases the clinical diagnoses included lymphoma, squamous cell carcinoma, neurofibroma and lipoma. Two cases strongly mimicked tubercular lymphadenitis, while one case occurred in a renal transplant recipient.

Conclusions FNA may help diagnosis of a parasitic aetiology in cases where malignancy or tuberculosis is a clinical probability. Cysticercosis should be an integral part of the differential diagnosis of all subcutaneous swellings, regardless of the clinical setting. Helpful cytological clues are discussed.

  • Cysticercosis
  • aspiration
  • malignancy
  • renal transplant
  • tuberculosis
  • cytopathology
  • diagnosis
  • malignant tumours
  • parasites

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.