We report an unusual case of partially calcified ovarian fibrothecoma without ascites in an elderly female reporting previous oophorectomy and complaining of melena. For this patient, her gastrointestinal bleeding was determined to be secondary to benign polyps, although it was during the work-up associated with this lesion that suspicion was raised regarding a 7 cm calcified right pelvic mass. While this mass did appear benign intraoperatively, metal endosurgical clips were deployed to assist subsequent radiographic localization of tumor site in the event adjuvant radiotherapy was indicated. Excision of the tumor at laparoscopy confirmed its ovarian origin, and immunohistochemical labeling was performed to characterize it more fully as a benign fibrothecoma.
Other investigators have commented on the protean nature of ovarian tumors in this group that may occur in the setting of edema , elevated CA-125 [3, 4], and pregnancy . While immunohistochemical features of this neoplasm have been described previously [6–8], the thecoma-fibroma group of ovarian stromal tumors represents a spectrum of lesions in which clear distinctions between various entities are difficult to define6. However, tumor calcification and low serum CA-125 are infrequent findings.
One finding that proved useful in finalizing the diagnosis for our patient was the high affinity for vimentin staining, characteristic of ovarian fibrothecoma . Vimentin is a 57 kD intermediate filament protein forming the cytoskeleton of vertebrate cells. The protein was initially thought to be preferentially retained in malignant mesenchymal tissues, although coexpression of intermediate filaments (particularly cytokeratin and vimentin) was subsequently shown to exist in many benign lesions. Accordingly, application of multiple antibodies is recommended to formulate a diagnosis with sufficient precision, as demonstrated in our case. Indeed for this calcified ovarian fibrothecoma, vimentin was the only positive immunohistochemical marker registered from a panel of ten antibodies.
The impact of patient recall error while obtaining the surgical history also warrants comment. A variant of residual ovary syndrome, the problem begins when the patient is unaware of an ovary intentionally conserved at surgery. The ovary subsequently develops a pathologic process or causes symptoms necessitating its removal in a second operation . Not surprisingly, this is more likely among subjects of advanced age who may have never known (or forgotten) important details of an operation performed long ago and for which no written record can be obtained. Our patient had believed that she had no ovaries for 40 years, a "fact" dutifully reported to multiple physicians over time. Could awareness of her retained single ovary have alerted this patient's caregivers to the presence of ovarian fibrothecoma sooner? Certainly when hysterectomy-oophorectomy is stated to have been performed remote from the time of index presentation, an in situ ovary should still be considered whenever pelvic pathology is encountered.