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Lymphoid aggregates in bone marrow: a diagnostic pitfall


Lymphoid aggregates in bone marrow specimens are a relatively frequent finding that may pose a diagnostic challenge for a pathologist. The distinction between reactive and neoplastic aggregates has significant clinical relevance. Although many testing modalities such as immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry and molecular studies are currently available in clinical laboratories, the appropriate utilisation of these modalities and the awareness of their potential pitfalls are important. When a neoplastic process is ruled out, the significance of benign lymphoid aggregates in bone marrow is often unclear, as they may be associated with a broad spectrum of conditions including infections, autoimmune disorders, medications, or may even be idiopathic.

This review focuses on evidence-based criteria that can aid in making the distinction between benign and malignant lymphoid aggregates and discusses the advantages, disadvantages and limits of ancillary tests used for this purpose. Finally, the most common aetiologies of benign lymphoid aggregates and their associations with specific diseases are discussed.

  • bone marrow
  • lymphoma
  • lymphocytes
  • bone marrow diseases

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