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Cystic dysplasia of the epididymis: a disorder of mesonephric differentiation associated with renal maldevelopment


The occurrence of congenital epididymal malformations with a cystic component has not been fully characterized. Most epididymal cysts occur later in life and are likely acquired. In addition, congenital malformations of the male excretory system are extremely uncommon in fetuses and neonates, and epididymal dysplastic changes have not been reported in these cases. In this study, we report 20 cases (including 19 fetal/neonatal autopsies and one surgical specimen from an older child) showing the same spectrum of histological findings in the epididymis, characterized by cystic ductal dilation with dysplastic ducts of variable diameters and irregular shapes, with ill-defined walls. Efferent ductules also showed dysplastic features. In addition, 18 cases had either renal and/or urinary tract anomalies, including renal dysplasia (eight), pelvicaliceal dilation (eight), renal agenesis (four) and hypoplasia (one), ureteral agenesis (two) and hypoplasia (one), urethra and bladder agenesis (two), prostate agenesis (two), and autosomal recessive polycystic renal disease (two). Our observations led to the recognition of a peculiar, not previously described congenital lesion of the epididymis, and we propose the term cystic dysplasia of the epididymis for this anomaly. Similar to what is observed in other male genital system anomalies (including malformations of the rete testis, vas deferens, and seminal vesicles), most lesions occurred in association with renal and/or urinary tract malformations, suggesting a spectrum of congenital malformations. The shared embryological origin of these structures may explain their simultaneous occurrence, possibly related to disrupted mesonephric duct development.

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Conflicts of Interest Statement

We declare that we have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Mariana M. Cajaiba.

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Nistal, M., González-Peramato, P., Sousa, G. et al. Cystic dysplasia of the epididymis: a disorder of mesonephric differentiation associated with renal maldevelopment. Virchows Arch 456, 695–702 (2010).

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  • Epididymis
  • Kidney
  • Dysplasia
  • Cyst
  • Congenital
  • Malformation