Infectious / inflammatory disorders
Foamy macrophages

Author: David Lynch, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 6 February 2017, last major update February 2017

Copyright: (c) 2003-2017, PathologyOutlines.com, Inc.

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Cite this page: Foamy macrophages. PathologyOutlines.com website. http://www.pathologyoutlines.com/topic/spleenfoamymacrophages.html. Accessed January 18th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Increased foamy histiocytes / macrophages, typically in the red pulp
Essential features
  • Associated with a wide variety of conditions both benign and malignant
  • Conditions with high cell turnover may produce foamy histiocytes
  • Diagnosis typically requires clinicopathologic correlation
  • Ceroid histiocytosis - histiocytes filled with phospholipids; not specific to a single disease entity
Case reports
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Red pulp expanded by histiocytes with abundant foamy cytoplasm
  • Histiocytes scattered without forming a discrete mass
  • May have basophilic cytoplasm from ingestion of platelets in idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)
  • Finely fibrillary cytoplasm suggests underlying storage disease
  • White pulp is normal in size
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on Pathout server:

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Contributed by David Lynch, M.D.

Positive stains
Negative stains
Differential diagnosis