Cytological diagnosis of papillary thyroid carcinoma with tall cells on ThinPrep liquid-based cytology

Jordan E. Baum, Lauren Soong, Theresa Scognamiglio, Elizabeth M. Margolskee, Rana S. Hoda, Rema Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The tall cell variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC-TC) has been associated with aggressive features including extrathyroidal extension, higher rate of lymph node and distant metastases, and higher recurrence rate. We aimed to evaluate the cytomorphologic features of PTC-TC on ThinPrep (TP) along with its diagnostic efficacy to detect PTC-TC. Methods: Preoperative cytology samples from 30 cases of histologically-proven PTC-TC and 30 classical PTC controls were selected for this study. TP preparations were evaluated for varying architectural and cytomorphologic features. Results: Tall cells were present in the majority of PTC-TC cases and were located at the periphery of cell clusters and as single cells. Cytoplasmic cuff along the periphery of cell clusters and soap-bubble pseudoinclusions were very specific features of PTC-TC, when present. PTC-TC cases were more likely to show abundant oncocytic cytoplasm and distinct cell borders. Cytoplasmic tails were more likely to be present and more numerous in PTC-TC. The presence of nuclear grooves, papillary architecture, and giant cells were not reliable distinguishing features of PTC-TC vs controls. Conclusion: Our results indicate that tall cell cytomorphologic and architectural features in PTC are identifiable on TP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-546
Number of pages6
JournalDiagnostic Cytopathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • cytologic features
  • papillary thyroid carcinoma
  • tall cell variant
  • ThinPrep
  • thyroid cytology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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