Home About us Editorial board Ahead of print Current issue Search Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contact Us Login 
An Official Publication of the Indian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathologists

  Table of Contents    
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 4-6

Parapharyngeal space pleomorphic adenoma with extensive lipometaplasia – A rare unique pathological entity

1 Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Pathology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission25-Mar-2020
Date of Decision18-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance19-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication19-Mar-2021

Correspondence Address:
Ronald Anto
Department of Head and Neck Surgery, ENT 1 Office, 3rd Floor OPD Building, Christian Medical College, IDA Shudder Road, Vellore - 632 004, Tamil Nadu
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jomfp.JOMFP_117_20

Rights and Permissions



Pleomorphic adenoma (PA) is the most common neoplasm of the salivary gland. Fat-containing tumors encountered in salivary glands are very rare. We had a case of PA of parapharyngeal space and surprisingly the final histopathology showed an unusual finding of lipometapasia. We believe that this is the first case from parapharyngeal space to be reported in the literature. The aim of this report is to discuss the behavior of lipometaplasia in PA with review of literature. Pathological characterization of this rare tumor might help in proper classification and enhance their recognition.

Keywords: Lipometaplasia, parapharyngeal space, pleomorphic adenoma

How to cite this article:
Mani S, Anto R, Michael RC, Ponmar M. Parapharyngeal space pleomorphic adenoma with extensive lipometaplasia – A rare unique pathological entity. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol 2021;25, Suppl S1:4-6

How to cite this URL:
Mani S, Anto R, Michael RC, Ponmar M. Parapharyngeal space pleomorphic adenoma with extensive lipometaplasia – A rare unique pathological entity. J Oral Maxillofac Pathol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 18];25, Suppl S1:4-6. Available from: https://www.jomfp.in/text.asp?2021/25/4/4/311537

   Introduction Top

Primary parapharyngeal space tumors are very rare, accounting for only 0.5% of neoplasms of head and neck. Most of these tumors (70%–80%) are benign and 40%–50% of these tumors originate in the minor salivary glands, specifically pleomorphic adenoma (PA).[1],[2]

The classical appearance of PA is characterized by a mixture of myoepithelial and ductal cells, with foci of chondromyxoid areas admixed with areas of squamous and/or sebaceous metaplasia. Occasionally, areas of lamellar bone with osteoblasts and osteoclasts representing osseous metaplasia and focal collections of mature adipocytes, which may be due to entrapment of surrounding fibroadipose tissue, can be present. Although scattered, isolated adipocytes might be rarely encountered in classical PAs. PAs and myoepitheliomas with extensive lipometaplasia comprising more than 20% of the tumor is exceedingly uncommon with about 15 reported cases in the English literature to date.[3]

Most of the cases are reported from major salivary gland especially from parotid gland and few cases from minor salivary glands of oral cavity. Our case is the first reported case from parapharyngeal space. The clinical significance of this unusual finding of lipometaplasia is not clear. Our aim of this report is to discuss the behavior of lipometaplasia in PA with review of literature.

   Case Report Top

A 34-year-old man with no comorbidities, presented with the difficulty in opening mouth with intermittent pain in the right ear for the past 1 year. On examination of oropharynx, mucosa covered soft bulge was present in the soft palate on the right side and also pushing the right tonsil medially. Neck examination was found to be normal. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) face [Figure 1] was done which revealed a well-defined encapsulated heterogeneously enchasing mass in the right prestyloid parapharyngeal space measuring 62 mm × 37 mm × 61 mm, with no infiltration to adjacent structures or skull base extension. These features are in favor of mass likely originating in the minor salivary gland. Thus, with the preoperative diagnosis of a benign right parapharyngeal space tumor, transcervical excision of tumor was done. A well-defined 7 cm × 6 cm × 4 cm mass was visualized in the right prestyloid space intraoperatively and was excised completely. Intraoperative and postoperative period was uneventful.
Figure 1: MRI face showing tumor in right parapharyngeal space (red arrow) (a)T1 W axial image showing multiple punctuate hyper intensities within the tumor. (b) T1W coronal image showing same findings as axial image. (c) T1W GADO contrast showing heterogeneous post contrast enhancement

Click here to view

Microscopically, sections show parts of a circumscribed tumor composed of an intimate admixture of epithelial, myoepithelial, and stromal components. The epithelial component is composed of anastomosing strands, cords, trabeculae, and tubules with mildly pleomorphic nuclei, fine chromatin, few with visible nucleoli, and moderate eosinophilic cytoplasm surrounded by an outer mantle of myoepithelial cells. The plasmacytoid to spindled myoepithelial cells with moderate amounts of eosinophilic to clear cytoplasm are also arranged in small clusters and cords, which blends into the surrounding chondromyxoid stroma. There is focal oncocytic and squamous metaplasia. There is extensive adipocytic metaplasia constituting more than 90% of the tumor volume. There is no necrosis. There is no evidence of malignancy. Thus, with the following above features, the diagnosis of PA with extensive lipometaplasia was made [Figure 2]. The patient was followed up to 6 months and no recurrence was noted.
Figure 2: Hematoxylin and Eosin stain shows all components—tubules lined by epithelial and myoepithelial cells; chondromyxoid stroma and the lobules of fat (a) 40X view. (b) 100X view

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

PA with extensive lipometaplasia is a recently described histologic variant of PA that demonstrates varying degrees of lipocytic differentiation.[4] Haskell et al. l suggested that it could be due to the ability of myoepithelial cells to undergo various metaplasias is the cause of the unusual histologic appearances of this tumor. The adipocytic components comprised 20%–90% of the tumor mass in most cases.[5]

Due to their rarity, there is no general agreement on the histogenetic classification and nomenclature of these lesions and a few lesions are not included in the current World Health Organization Classification of head and neck tumors. Agaimy et al., described a classification system for fat containing tumors and tumor-like lesions of salivary glands which can be divided into monophasic true adipocytic neoplasms (lipoma and its variants and atypical lipomatous tumor/liposarcoma) and hybrid lipoepithelial lesions composed of epithelial derivatives admixed with a variable fatty component (PA and myoepithelioma). In addition, rare salivary gland tumors may display a fatty component associated with an epithelial component distinct from the above entities (sialolipomas and lipoadenomas).[3],[6] In the present case, the presence of epithelial and myoepithelial in a background of chondromixoid stroma, with the presence of 90% of lipometaplasia points to the diagnosis of PA with extensive lipometplasia.

Haskell et al. in his study, reported that approximately 80% of PA involved major salivary glands (11/12 in the parotid) with only three cases in minor salivary glands of oral cavity.[5] In our case, the tumor is from parapharyngeal space which has not been previously reported in literature. None of the reported case in the literature had recurrence after surgical excision.[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12] PA with lipometaplasia behaves in the same way as their nonfat-containing counterparts; both types can be cured with simple excision and do not carry a risk of recurrence.[12]

MRI Imaging can predict the fat component of the tumor but the final characterization will be totally depends on histopathological features.[8] Most of the time, the diagnosis of lipometaplasia will be made after the curative resection of the tumor which does not have much clinical significance but pathological characterization might help in proper classification of this rare tumor and enhance their recognition. Thus, might help us to clarify their pathogenesis and biological behavior of the tumor. Even though an uncommon histopathological variant, it is treated like as common variant because of the rarity and benign in nature.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient (s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initial s will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Khafif A, Segev Y, Kaplan DM, Gil Z, Fliss DM. Surgical management of parapharyngeal space tumors: A 10-year review. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2005;132:401-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Hakeem AH, Hazarika B, Pradhan SA, Kannan R. Primary pleomorphic adenoma of minor salivary gland in the parapharyngeal space. World J Surg Oncol 2009;7:85.  Back to cited text no. 2
Agaimy A. Fat-containing salivary gland tumors: A review. Head Neck Pathol 2013;7 Suppl 1:S90-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Ng WK, Ma L. Pleomorphic adenoma with extensive lipometaplasia. Histopathology 1995;27:285-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
Haskell HD, Butt KM, Woo SB. Pleomorphic adenoma with extensive lipometaplasia: Report of three cases. Am J Surg Pathol 2005;29:1389-93.  Back to cited text no. 5
Agaimy A, Ihrler S, Märkl B, Lell M, Zenk J, Hartmann A, et al. Lipomatous salivary gland tumors: A series of 31 cases spanning their morphologic spectrum with emphasis on sialolipoma and oncocytic lipoadenoma. Am J Surg Pathol 2013;37:128-37.  Back to cited text no. 6
Kwon MJ, Kim HJ, Park B, Cho SJ, Shin HS, Park HR, et al. A case report of spindle cell myoepithelioma with extensive lipomatous metaplasia and thick collagen bundles in the submandibular gland. Diagn Cytopathol 2016;44:764-9.  Back to cited text no. 7
Seifert G, Donath K, Schäfer R. Lipomatous pleomorphic adenoma of the parotid gland. Classification of lipomatous tissue in salivary glands. Pathol Res Pract 1999;195:247-52.  Back to cited text no. 8
Ide F, Kusama K. Myxolipomatous pleomorphic adenoma: An unusual oral presentation. J Oral Pathol Med 2004;33:53-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
Siddaraju N, Singh N, Muniraj F, Jothilingam P, Kumar S, Basu D, et al. Preoperative cytodiagnosis of pleomorphic adenoma with extensive lipometaplasia: A case report. Acta Cytol 2009;53:457-9.  Back to cited text no. 10
Skálová A, Stárek I, Simpson RH, Kucerová V, Dvorácková J, Curík R, et al. Spindle cell myoepithelial tumours of the parotid gland with extensive lipomatous metaplasia. A report of four cases with immunohistochemical and ultrastructural findings. Virchows Arch 2001;439:762-7.  Back to cited text no. 11
Jin YT, Lian JD, Yan JJ, Hwang TZ, Tsai ST. Pleomorphic adenoma with extensive adipose content. Histopathology 1996;28:87-9.  Back to cited text no. 12


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


Print this article  Email this article


    Similar in PUBMED
    Search Pubmed for
    Search in Google Scholar for
  Related articles
    Article in PDF (890 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

   Case Report
    Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded105    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal

Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 15th Aug, 2007