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Pathology of Balloon Cell Nevus:

A benign pigmented tumour with clear cells.

 Dr Sampurna Roy MD         




Balloon cells are altered melanocytes with clear vacuolated cytoplasm caused by a defect in the process of melanogenesis.

The balloon cell naevus is characterized by large, vacuolated nevus cells with clear cytoplasm and central nucleus.


Microscopic images of "Balloon Cell Nevus" showing vacuolated nevus cells with clear cytoplasm.

The nucleus appears hyperchromatic.

Multinucleate balloon cells may be present.

The diagnosis should be made when more than 50% of the tumour shows balloon cell change. 

Although rare, balloon cell change has been observed in a variety of melanocytic proliferations, particularly intradermal melanocytic nevi and melanoma.

Balloon cell change has also been reported in dysplastic naevus.

Distinction between balloon cell nevus and melanoma:  In melanoma, cells are larger ; mitotic figures are present ; there is evidence of radial growth phase.

Related post : Balloon Cell Melanoma.

Balloon cell change may lead to difficulties in diagnosis, particularly with other clear cell neoplasms.

Dermatopathology patterns that remind us of something else

Related post : Clear cell carcinoma of skin.


Further reading:

Balloon cell naevus of the conjunctiva: clinicopathological features and management.

An electron microscopic study of balloon cell nevus

A misleading CD68 positive balloon cell nevus on the penis in a child.

An ultrastructural study of balloon cell nevus (Relationship of mast cells to nevus cells)

White globules correlate with balloon cell nevi nests.

Clear cell fibrous papule: report of a case mimicking a balloon cell nevus.

Compound nevus with congenital features and balloon cell changes--an immunohistochemical study.

Proliferative nodules with balloon-cell change in a large congenital melanocytic nevus.

Balloon cell nevus: summary of the clinical and histologic characteristics

Balloon cell nevi

Balloon cell nevus of the conjunctiva

Coincidence of balloon cell melanoma with balloon cells in a dermal nevus.

Balloon-cell nevi and balloon-cell malignant melanoma.






Dr Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant  Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)






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