Short Courses and Special Courses

SC38 - Common Diagnostic Dilemmas in Head and Neck Pathology: Pitfalls, Pearls, and Clinical Insights

Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 8:00 am - 11:30 am
This Short Course session includes up to a half-hour break.

Session Credits:

3 CME and 3 SAMs


Qihui “Jim” Zhai, MD
John Casler, MD, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, FL

Course Description

An experienced otolaryngologist will be partnering with a seasoned pathologist to provide insights on handling practical issues commonly encountered in diagnosing head and neck lesions. This course will highlight surgeons’ perspectives and pathologists’ diagnostic pitfalls and pearls. An analytic diagnostic approach will be used to address clinically significant dilemmas and update recently described entities. Appropriate language for conveying key pathologic findings, particularly for equivocal and challenging scenarios, will be illustrated. A case-based and interactive approach between the presenters and attendees will be utilized. This course is designed for pathologists in training, general practicing pathologists in community hospitals, and head and neck pathologists in academic medical centers. It is critical to consider the previous FNA diagnosis, molecular data, clinical findings, and subsequent surgical procedures that will result from a pathologic diagnosis. Frozen section artifacts, diagnostic pitfalls and pearls will be discussed.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this educational activity, the learner will be able to:

  • Classify the histologic variants of squamous cell carcinoma in the head and neck area, emphasizing the HPV-association, HPV/p16 detection methods, with an update on their associated prognostic and therapeutic significance.
  • Separate a cystic well-differentiated metastatic squamous cell carcinoma in a neck lymph node from a benign cystic lesion such as branchial cleft cyst or an ectopic thymic cyst in the neck;
  • Apply an algorithmic approach to the classification of salivary gland tumors, using major diagnostic features such as the low power growth patterns, the number of cell types, Cytologic atypia, etc. Potential pitfalls such as FNA induced artifacts will be illustrated. Histologic spectrum, immunoprofile, molecular tools, and clinical consequences will be integrated
  • Separate small blue cell tumors in the head and neck based on morphology, immunoprofile and clinical information
  • Know how to utilize the strengths and limitations of thyroid nodule frozen section diagnosis, when to defer to permanent, and when a frozen section diagnosis is contraindicated.


Continuing Medical Education and Maintenance of Certification

The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology designates this live activity for a maximum of 3 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The USCAP is approved by the American Board of Pathology (ABP) to offer Self-Assessment credits (SAMs) for the purpose of meeting the ABP requirements for Maintenance of Certification (MOC). Physicians must take and pass the post-test in order to claim SAMs credit.

Physicians can earn a maximum of 3 SAM credit hours.


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