Mapping the Location of Prognostically Significant Microcirculatory Patterns in Ciliary Body and Choroidal Melanomas

Robert FOLBERG2, Margaret FLECK3, Mary G MEHAFFEY1, Margaret MEYER1, Suzanne E BENTLER4, Robert F WOOLSON4, Jacob PE?ER5

1Department of Ophthalmology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA
2Department of Pathology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA
3Department of Computer Science, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA
4Division of Biostatistics, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA
5Department of Ophthalmology, Hadassah-Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel


The microcirculation of choroidal and ciliary body melanomas is remodeled into architecturally distinctive patterns. The presence of two histologic microvascular patterns, networks and parallel vessels with cross-linking, is strongly associated with metastasis. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that networks and parallel vessels with cross-linking patterns are not distributed evenly throughout the tumor. From a set of 234 eyes removed for ciliary body or choroidal melanoma, 152 tumors contained at least one focus of either vascular networks or parallel vessels with cross-linking. Histological cross-sections were digitized and foci of tumor containing these patterns were pseudocolorized so that their location within the periphery or central tumor zone could be mapped. Ciliary body and choroidal melanomas vary widely in size and shape and it is not appropriate to describe the periphery of a tumor as a fixed value because in a small tumor, the periphery thus defined would occupy a larger percent area than in a larger tumor. In this study, the peripheral and central zones of each tumor were described by a function that was constant from tumor to tumor, allowing the width of the peripheral and central zones to vary proportionally with tumor size. Observed counts of vascular patterns per zone were compared statistically with expected counts based upon the percent area occupied by the peripheral and central zones. Discrete foci of networks and parallel with cross-linking vessels are over-represented in the tumor periphery (p < 0.0001). Pathology & Oncology Research, Vol 2, Nr 4, 229-236, 1996

Key words: melanoma; metastasis; prognosis; angiogenesis; vascularity; image analysis

Received: Oct 15, 1996; accepted: Nov 21, 1996
Correspondence: Robert FOLBERG, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Iowa, 100 Medical Research Center, Room 233 Iowa City 52242-1182, USA; Tel: 319-3357095, Fax: 319-3357193; E-mail:

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