Photoblog: The world, one image at a time.


Human Teratoma

Image description:  Human teratoma, 60x magnification, immunofluorescent confocal microscopy on Olympus IX81 with a Fluoview 1000 confocal head.  Note the simple columnar epithelium with goblet cells (reminiscent of intestinal epithelium) and extensive vasculature.  Image taken at the Center for Biologic Imaging (CBI).  The tumor specimen is, in fact, my own.  I had a softball-sized mature cystic teratoma on my ovary and it was removed during emergency surgery.  See the comments section if you’d like the whole (fun!) story.  Remember…I worked in an imaging lab…that’s why I was able to take the specimen with me and image it at the lab.  What scientist could resist the chance to image something so cool and uncommon???  Not me, that’s for sure!  And don’t worry…the lab thought it was cool, not gross.

P.S.  They mention a teratoma in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”  Don’t believe me?  Watch the dinner scene towards the end where the parents meet each other.  The aunt talks about her friend who had one on her neck.  Dead serious about that.


3 responses

  1. ok but on another level, it is gorgeous…

    May 4, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    • bellaitaliana

      I’m glad you see the beauty in a histological image! Several of my friends at med school saw this pic on my computer while I was studying histology and said it was really awesome, so I figured, eh, what the heck? I’ll post it. It may be gross to some people, but others will find it interesting!

      May 4, 2009 at 9:40 pm

  2. bellaitaliana


    Now for a picture that has quite a bit of…er…personal significance to me. Meet my tumor. My mature cystic teratoma to be exact. This lovely, softball-sized tumor was growing on (and completely obliterated) my right ovary. Two years ago, the day before heading back to school after Thanksgiving break, I had the most horrendous pain I could imagine. My mom rushed me to the ER. After trying multiple pain medications to find one that could even remotely dull the pain, they did a CT and found a huge radiodense mass in my pelvis. It always sucks when the doctor comes back in your room and says that you might have cancer. Way to scare my mom, doc. Thank god I was more or less strung out on synthetic morphine by that point and couldn’t fully comprehend his statement.

    For those wondering, the pain from this little beauty was caused by the torsion of my ovarian ligament (due to the sheer weight of the tumor). Clinically shown to be one of the most painful experiences known to man. Oh joy. Lucky me. Childbirth oughta be like a walk in the park now! So I was scheduled for emergency surgery and the tumor was removed. Super kudos to my amazing surgeon who had the foresight to do a “bikini line incision” that wouldn’t show when this 23 year old would wear a bathing suit. Having to go up into my abdomen from there was a heck of a task for her, but clearly women understand what another woman would want/appreciate.

    Now for the fun part. I worked in a biological imaging lab (CBI!!) at that point, and being the incredible nerd that I was, I arranged for preservative fluids to be brought to my hospital room from the lab so that I could save the tumor and get some sweet images from it! Thank goodness my lab and the hospital were both affliated with Pitt, as its much easier to pull these things off within the same institution. The surgeon and pathologist thought my scientific and pre-med nerdiness was endearing and were more than happy to give me the tumor after their studies of it were complete. Once that puppy was marked as benign, I got my tumor back. In a jar. Since these tumors are also known as dermoid cysts, I named it Danny the Dermoid. At the lab, when I was preparing and imaging it, it was much easier to say I was working on Danny than “my tumor”.

    Fun facts: my teratoma had bone, nervous tissue, a rudimentary heart, intestinal-like epithelium, and pretty much every single other tissue type possible. A lovely mish-mosh of crud. Oh, and it had a ton of hair in it (very common for these tumors). The disturbing and retrospectively hilarious part of this was when the surgeon visited me in my hospital bed and commented on how I must be the young lady that had the teratoma removal because (she is now stroking my hair) the stuff on my head was the spitting image of the hair in the tumor. Gross.

    So, that is the story of unilateral salpingooophorectomy and tumor resection (say that 1o times fast! Yeah, med school!) (that’s code for tumor, ovary, and Fallopian tube removal on one side). I survived to tell the tale! Woohoo! Thanks to all my friends and family who were there every step of the way!!

    May 4, 2009 at 10:00 pm

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