Gestational trophoblastic disease
Placental site nodule (PSN)

Author: Sonali Lanjewar, M.D., MBBS (see Authors page)
Editor: Raavi Gupta, M.D.

Revised: 20 October 2017, last major update October 2017

Copyright: (c) 2002-2017,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Placental site nodule
Cite this page: Lanjewar, S. Placental site nodule. website. Accessed November 20th, 2017.
Definition / general
  • Placental site nodules (or plaques) are small and well circumscribed nodular aggregates of chorionic type intermediate trophoblastic cells embedded in a hyalinized stroma
  • Represent the benign counterpart of the epithelioid trophoblastic tumor
Clinical features
  • Discovered incidentally in uterine or endocervical curettings, cervical biopsies and rarely in hysterectomy specimens
  • Placental site nodules have been detected in fallopian tubes, presumably a consequence of prior tubal pregnancy (Int J Gynecol Pathol 2003;22:362, Int J Gynecol Pathol 1997;16:219)
  • Due to small size and circumscription, these lesions can be completely surgically excised
  • These lesions are not known to recur or progress to persistent gestational trophoblastic disease (Int J Gynecol Pathol 2001;20:31)
  • No specific treatment or follow up is necessary for this lesion
  • However, the behavior of atypical placental site nodules has not yet been studied
Gross description
  • Placental site nodules are small lesions, from 1 to 14 mm (average 2.1 mm)
  • Grossly, these appear as a yellow, white and necrotic appearing nodule in the endometrium or superficial myometrium
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Microscopically, appear as small nodular or plaque-like lesions with rounded, well circumscribed borders which are surrounded by chronic inflammatory cells and occasionally decidualized stroma
  • Nodules typically are composed of haphazardly arranged chorionic type intermediate trophoblast which occupy the outer portion of nodule with a central hyalinized extracellular matrix
  • Mitotic figures are absent or rare
  • Cells vary in size and have relatively small uniform nuclei
  • Cytoplasm of the larger trophoblastic cells is abundant and eosinophilic; the smaller cells contain glycogen rich clear cytoplasm (Kurman: Blaustein's Pathology of the Female Genital Tract, 6th Edition, 2011)
  • Atypical placental site nodules: nodules with histologic features between placental site nodules and epithelioid trophoblastic tumors, specifically higher Ki67, cellular proliferation and larger size
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on Pathout server:

Images contributed by Sonali Lanjewar, M.D., MBBS:
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Well circumscribed
nodules with
hyalinized matrix

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Haphazardly arranged intermediate trophoblasts

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Hyalinized matrix and intermediate trophoblasts

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Chorionic type intermediate trophoblasts

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Weak hPL staining

Positive stains
Negative stains
Differential diagnosis
  • Epithelioid trophoblastic tumor (ETT)
    • These are larger, more cellular, have necrosis and mitosis
    • Calcifications are typically present in ETTs and when present, lesion is more likely to be an ETT than placental site nodule
    • Cyclin E is expressed in ETT and absent in placental site nodule
  • Squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix
    • Circumscription, abundant eosinophilic extracellular deposit and lack of mitotic activity favor a placental site nodule
    • Placental site nodules are typically negative for p16
Board review question #1
Typical immunophenotypic profile of placental site nodule is:

  1. p63-, hPL-, cyclin E+
  2. p63-, hPL+, cyclin E-
  3. p63-, hPL+, cyclin E+
  4. p63+, hPL+, cyclin E-
Board review answer #1
D. p63+, hPL+, cyclin E-