The morphologic spectrum of hibernoma: A clinicopathologic study of 170 cases

Mary A. Furlong, Julie Fanburg-Smith, Markku Miettinen

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Hibernoma, an uncommon tumor of brown fat, has been described only in a few case reports and small series. The authors reviewed 170 cases of hibernoma and evaluated the morphologic features and the behavior of this tumor. The records from the Soft Tissue Registry of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology from 1970 were searched for cases coded as "hibernoma." Clinical information and available slides from 170 hibernomas were reviewed. Immunohistochemical staining for S-100 and CD34 was performed on select cases. Follow-up information was obtained from the patients' medical records, the patients' physicians, and the patients themselves. Of 170 patients with hibernoma, 99 were men and 71 were women. The tumor occurred most commonly in adults, with a mean age of 38.0 years (age range, 2-75 years). Nine tumors occurred in pediatric patients. The most common anatomic locations included the thigh (n = 50), shoulder (n = 20), back (n = 17), neck (n = 16), chest (n = 11), arm (n = 11), and abdominal cavity/retroperitoneum (n = 10). The average duration of the tumor was 30.6 months. Tumor size ranged from 1 to 24 cm with an average dimension of 9.3 cm. All tumors were composed partly or principally of coarsely multivacuolated fat cells with small, central nuclei and no atypia. Four morphologic variants of hibernoma were identified: typical, myxoid, spindle cell, and lipoma-like. "Typical" hibernoma (n = 140) included eosinophilic cell, pale cell, and mixed cell types based on the tinctorial quality of the hibernoma cells. The myxoid variant (n = 14) contained a loose basophilic matrix. Spindle cell hibernoma (n = 4) had features of spindle cell lipoma and hibernoma; all occurred in the neck or scalp. The lipoma-like variant (n = 12) contained only scattered hibernoma cells. Immunohistochemically, 17 of 20 cases (85%) were positive for S-100 protein. Only one hibernoma of 20, a spindle cell variant, was positive for CD34, whereas other hibernoma variants were negative. Follow-up was obtained for 66 cases (39%) over a mean period of 7.7 years (range, 6 months-28 years). None of the patients with follow-up had a recurrence or metastasis, including eight with intramuscular tumors. No patient died of disease. Hibernoma is a tumor found most often in adults and most commonly in the thigh, with several morphologic variants. It is a benign tumor that does not recur with complete excision. Hibernomas should not be confused with atypical lipomas or well-differentiated liposarcoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)809-814
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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