Urine cytomorphology of micropapillary urothelial carcinoma

Bing Zhu, Stephen M. Rohan, Xiaoqi Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Micropapillary urothelial carcinoma (MPUC) is a rare subtype of urothelial carcinoma (UC) with an aggressive clinical course. The cytomorphologic features of MPUC in urine cytology have not been well described. In this study, 23 urine specimens (11 voided urines and 12 bladder washings) from 23 patients with MPUC on follow-up surgical material and 28 specimens (14voided urines and 14 bladder washings) from 28 patients with high-grade UCs (HGUC) were retrieved. Cytologic features (nuclear grade, cytoplasmic characteristics), architectural features (single cell pattern, true papillary structures, flat sheets/nests, three dimensional clusters, micropapillary (inside-out, acinar-like, or cauliflower with nuclei located peripherally)), and necrosis were evaluated. Clinical follow-up was obtained by chart review. Two findings, micropapillae and cytoplasmic vacuoles, were seen more frequently in MPUC compared to HGUC, 81.0% vs. 14.3%, and 57.1% vs. 14.3%, respectively. The combination of these two findings had a sensitivity of 78%, a specificity of 86%, a positive predictive value of 82%, and a negative predictive value of 83% for the diagnosis of MPUC on subsequent biopsy. MPUC and HGUC can both exhibit a single cell pattern, papillary structures, flat sheets/nests, three dimensional clusters, high-nuclear grade, and necrosis, thus these findings are not useful in distinguishing these entities. Chart review revealed that patients with MPUC had a higher rate of metastasis to lymph nodes and distant organs than HGUC, 57% vs. 4%. Therefore, the findings of cytoplasmic vacuoles and micropapillary structures in UC from a urine cytology specimen are associated with MPUC on subsequent biopsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-491
Number of pages7
JournalDiagnostic cytopathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • high-grade urothelial carcinoma
  • metastasis
  • micropapillary urothelial carcinoma
  • urine cytology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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