Printer Friendly

Evaluation of the cell block technique as an auxiliary method of diagnosing jawbone lesions.


Several disease entities, of both odontogenic and non-odontogenic origin, may affect the maxillomandibular complex. These lesions can exhibit similar clinical and imaging appearances associated with a wide range of histopathological and behavior features. (1)

In most cases of bone lesions, a biopsy and histopathological analysis are necessary to establish the final diagnosis. (1) Biopsy may be a complex procedure at some maxillomandibular sites, and some systemic conditions could contraindicate the procedure. The search for new, less-invasive techniques which could eventually replace biopsy and simplify the diagnostic process would benefit both professionals and patients. (1-3) Aspiration is recommended in submucosal lesions or in those cases where a very thin layer of cortical bone persists. (1) The collected material should first be visually examined, with a special focus on color and consistency. However, this material is frequently discarded without being properly referred for laboratory analysis. (1)

The cell block technique is a histological approach, often used in medical pathology, which consists of aspirating the lesion with the use of an 18-gauge needle followed by laboratory processing. (2) The aspirated material is centrifuged, paraffin-embedded, cut, stained, and histologically analyzed. The great advantage of cell blocks in these cases is the decrease in cell dispersion. (2)

The aim of this study was to evaluate the viability of the cell block technique as an auxiliary method for the diagnosis of maxillary bone lesions with a cystic aspect.


This study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the authors' institution (approval number 145/08). Sampling included patients with intrabony jaw lesions with a clinical recommendation of aspiration, and being cared for at the Stomatology Ambulatory at the University Hospital, and at the Dental Clinic of the Federal University of Santa Catarina. All participants were volunteers who were informed about the study and were asked to sign an informed consent agreement.

Clinical procedures

All the patients underwent clinical and imaging examinations. The aspirations were performed in the same session, immediately after the examination or during the biopsy procedure. An 18-gauge needle coupled to a 20-mL syringe was inserted into the lesion at its maximum fluctuation or at the "papyrus crackling" consistency point. The aspirated material was analyzed macroscopically, and the syringe was immediately packaged in an ice-cooled container and referred to the Oral Pathology Laboratory for processing. An incisional or excisional biopsy was later performed according to the clinical indication for each case. The treatment prescribed followed pre-established protocols by the respective services.

Laboratory procedures

The material was removed from the syringe, transferred to a test tube, and centrifuged at 1500 rpm for 20 min. The pellet obtained after centrifugation was transferred to absorbent paper and fixed in a 10% formaldehyde solution for 24 h. After that, the material was sequentially processed as follows:

* dehydration,

* diaphanization,

* impregnation, and

* embedment in paraffin.

Three-micrometer-thick sections were obtained and stained with haematoxylin-eosin (H&E). The cell block slides were analyzed by light microscopy (Axiostar Plus; Carl Zeiss, Oberkochen, Germany) for evaluation of the presence of epithelial cells, acute and chronic inflammatory cells, keratin, and cholesterol crystal clefts. This evaluation was performed by a calibrated examiner, first independently and later by consensus with an oral pathologist. The biopsied tissues were subjected to routine processing for the histopathological diagnosis of the lesions.

Statistical analysis

From the cell block data and histopathology analyses, a database was created with the SPSS software package ("Statistical Package for the Social Sciences" for Windows, version 16.0, SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). The chi-square test was used to check the occurrence of variable associations at a 5% significance level.


The final sample consisted of 33 patients, 20 (60.6%) male and 13 (39.4%) female, with a mean age of 41 years, ranging from 9 to 73 years. The complete profile of the sample is shown in Table 1.

The data for the association of cell block features with histopathological diagnosis are shown in Table 2. There was a statistically significant association between cystic lesions and cholesterol crystal cleft occurrence, between KOT and epithelial cell occurrence, and between KOT and parakeratin occurrence.

All KOT cases (n = 11) included in this study showed parakeratin in cell block preparations (Figure 1A). Among 22 cystic lesions, 15 (68.2%) revealed the presence of cholesterol crystal clefts (Figure 2A). These clefts were also found in one KOT case that showed an intense inflammation upon histopathological examination. Epithelial cells resulting from desquamation were found in 7 KOT cases (Figure 1B) and in a nasopalatine duct cyst.



Biopsy may be complex at some maxillomandibular sites, such as the mandibular ramus and condylar lesions, due to the difficulty of surgical access. (4-6) Systemic conditions either contraindicate biopsy or render it difficult. In these cases, aspiration could be indicated to verify the absence or presence of blood or liquid inside a mandibular lesion, to allow for an evaluation of the coloration, consistency, and amount of the material extracted. (1) Fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is a valuable resource, especially to differentiate malignant from benign lesions. (3,7) However, the use of this technique for jaw lesions is not unanimously accepted. (2,3,7-9) In this study, the biopsies were performed with thicker-gauge needles, followed by the processing of the aspirated material by the cell block technique, with the goal of decreasing cell dispersion and providing a larger amount of material for analysis.

The occurrence of inflammatory cells was an expected finding in aspirations of inflammatory origin, since leukocyte transmigration toward the radicular and residual cyst epithelium is common. (1) Nonetheless, a statistically significant association between the occurrence of inflammatory cells and the lesions in this study was not found. Other authors, (8) upon examining maxillary aspirates through FNAC, found a large quantity of inflammatory cells in radicular cysts, in addition to fibromyxoid tissue and epithelial cells. Despite the lack of statistical relevance, probably due to the small sample in our study, in a comparison of cytological slides of radicular cysts (Figure 2B) with those of residual cysts, inflammatory cells were found to be more abundant in the former. This can be explained by the continuous contact of the lesion with bacterial components from the tooth root canal, presenting devitalized pulp.


A statistically significant association between cysts and cholesterol crystal clefts was found. Cholesterol crystal clefts have been reported in the lumen and/or inflammatory cyst capsule. (10) Epithelial cell occurrence showed a statistically significant association with KOTs. Such findings can be explained by the high epithelial proliferation rate of these tumors, which is responsible for the growth mechanism of these lesions. (11,12) The smooth junction between the thin epithelium and the connective tissue of the capsule (12) may also be a likely source of stimulation for the desquamation process.

All KOTs (n = 11) showed parakeratin. In cytological findings by August et al., (8) only one out of 3 KOTs analyzed showed keratin. However, these authors used a fast staining method or immediate fixation in ethanol without centrifugation and embedment, which generated an inevitable loss of material for analysis, due to the typical cell dispersion of these materials. Radhika et al. (13) stated that, when liquid is aspirated from extensive lesions, its centrifugation can improve diagnosis due to the concentration of lesion-typical cells.

The literature shows that FNAC, with or without cell block association, is a valuable diagnostic technique for other jaw lesions, such as giant-cell lesions and ameloblastomas. (13-17) However, it is important to emphasize that cytology is more complex than histology in maxillary lesions, (15) and that further studies should be developed on this matter so that a better understanding of the cytological features of these lesions can be achieved.


A preliminary diagnosis of cystic lesions and KOTs can be conducted by the cell block technique. The occurrence of cholesterol crystal clefts in cell block slides suggests cystic lesions. The presence of parakeratin in the cytological analysis is highly suggestive of KOT, eliminating the need for incisional biopsy in the therapeutic planning for these lesions.


(1.) Rivero ERC, Grando LJ, Menegat F, Claus JDP, Xavier FM. Cell block technique as a complementary method in the clinical diagnosis of cyst-like lesions of the jaw. J Appl Oral Sci. 2011 May-Jun; 19(3):269-73.

(2.) Karnachow PN, Bonin RE. Cell block technique for fine needle aspiration biopsy. J Clin Pathol. 1982 Jun;35(6):688.

(3.) Gunhan O, Dogan N, Celasun B, Sengun O, Onder T, Finci R. Fine-needle aspiration cytology of oral cavity and jaw bone lesions--a report of 102 cases. Acta Cytol. 1993 Mar-Apr;37(2):135-41.

(4.) Zadik Y, Aktas A, Drucker S, Nitzan DW. Aneurysmal bone cyst of mandibular condyle: A case report and review of the literature. J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2011 Nov 25; [Epub a head of print]. Available from:

(5.) Pace C, Holt D, Payne M. An unusual presentation of an ectopic third molar in the condylar region. Aust Dent J. 2010 Sep;55(3):325-7.

(6.) Sembronio S, Albiero AM, Zerman N, Costa F, Politi M. Endoscopically assisted enucleation and curettage of large mandibular odontogenic keratocyst. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2009 Feb; 107(2): 193-6.

(7.) Santos APC, Sugaya NN, Pinto Junior DC, Lemos Junior CA. Fine needle aspiration biopsy in the oral cavity and head and neck region. Braz Oral Res. 2011 Apr; 25(2): 186-91.

(8.) August M, Faquin CW, Ferraro N, Kaban L. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy of intraosseous lesions. J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 1999 Nov;57(11):1282-6.

(9.) Baykul T, Colok G, Gunhan O. The value of aspiration cytology in cystic lesions of the maxillofacial region. Eur J Dent. 2010 Jan;4(1):1-5.

(10.) Koseoglu BG, Atalay B, Erdem MA. Odontogenic cysts: a clinical study of 90 cases. J Oral Sci. 2004 Dec; 46(4): 253-7.

(11.) Shear M. The aggressive nature of odontogenic keratocyst; is it a benign cystic neoplasm? Part 2: Proliferation and genetic studies. Oral Oncol. 2002 Jun; 38(4): 323-31.

(12.) Bhargava D, Deshpande A, Pogrel MA. Keratocyst odontogenic tumour (KCOT)--a cyst to a tumor. Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2011 Nov 11; [Epub ahead of print]. Available from:

(13.) Radhika S, Nijhawan R, Das A, Dey P. Ameloblastoma of the mandible: diagnosis by fine-needle aspiration cytology. Diagn Cytopathol. 1993;9(3):310-3.

(14.) Castro WH, Filho EC, de Souza PE, Gomez RS. Immunocytochemistry of fine-needle aspirates from central giant cell granuloma. Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 1998 Aug;36(4):301-3.

(15.) Gunhan O, Finci R, Celsaun B, Demiriz M. A case of ameloblastoma diagnosed by fine-needle aspiration cytology. J Nihon Univ Sch Dent. 1989 Dec;31(4):565-9.

(16.) Stamatakos MM, Houston CGD, Fowler LCGB, Boyd ME, Solanki CPH. Diagnosis of ameloblastoma of the maxilla by fine needle aspiration: a case report. Acta Cytol. 1995 Jul Aug; 39(4):817-20.

(17.) Ucok O, Dogan N, Ucok C, Gunhan O. Role of fine needle aspiration cytology in the preoperative presumptive diagnosis of ameloblastoma. Acta Cytol. 2005 Jan-Feb;49(1):38-42.

Anne Caroline Costa Oenning (a)

Elena Riet Correa Rivero (b)

Maria Cristina Marino Calvo (c)

Maria Ines Meurer (b)

Liliane Janete Grando (b)

(a) Postgraduate Program in Dentistry, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, SC, Brazil.

(b) Department of Pathology, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, SC, Brazil.

(c) Department of Public Health, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, SC, Brazil.

Declaration of Interests: The authors certify that they have no commercial or associative interest that represents a conflict of interest in connection with the manuscript.

Corresponding author:

Liliane Janete Grando


Received for publication on Dec 19, 2011

Accepted for publication on May 09, 2012
Table 1--Description of the lesion sample.

Histopathological diagnosis           Number of   Total

Cysts   Inflammatory    Radicular     10   15      22
           cysts         Residual     5
        Development    Dentigerous    2    7
           cysts       Nasopalatine   5

Tumor     Keratocystic odontogenic    11   11      11
               tumor (KOT)

                Total sample                       33

Table 2--Association between histopathological diagnosis
and cellular features detected by cell block, comparing
cystic lesions with KOT.

Cell block feature     Histopathological   Feature
                           diagnosis       occurrence

                                           Yes   No

Chronic inflammation         Cysts         20    2
                              KOT           7    4
Acute inflammation           Cysts         19    3
                              KOT           8    3
Cholesterol                 Cysts *        15    7
  crystal clefts              KOT           1    10
Epithelial cells             Cysts          1    21
                             KOT *          7    4
Parakeratin                  Cysts          0    22
                             KOT *         11    0

Cell block feature   Histopathological   Total    p-value

Chronic inflammation       Cysts          22       0.1514
                           KOT            11
Acute inflammation         Cysts          22       0.6321
                           KOT            11
  crystal clefts           Cysts *        22      0.0046 *
                           KOT            11
Epithelial cells           Cysts          22      0.0010 *
                           KOT *          11
Parakeratin                Cysts          22     < 0.0001 *
                           KOT *          11

* Statistically significant.
COPYRIGHT 2012 Sociedade Brasileira de Pesquisa Odontologica - SBPQO
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Oral Pathology
Author:Oenning, Anne Caroline Costa; Rivero, Elena Riet Correa; Calvo, Maria Cristina Marino; Meurer, Maria
Publication:Brazilian Oral Research
Date:Jul 1, 2012
Previous Article:Effects of temporal muscle detachment and coronoidotomy on facial growth in young rats.
Next Article:Randomized clinical controlled trial on the effectiveness of conventional and orthodontic manual toothbrushes.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters