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Melanoma metastasis with intussusception

Case contributed by Assoc Prof Frank Gaillard


Epigastric pain. Past cholecystectomy.

Patient Data

Age: 70 years
Gender: Female

The proximal small bowel is dilated measuring up to 4 cm, with a transition point in the mid-small bowel. The transition point has the appearance of intussusception, with collapsed bowel distal. No definite mass is identified, although at the apex of the intussusception there is the impression of rounded enhancing nodule *2.5cm diameter (best seen on coronal images) which presumably represents the lead point. There is no intraperitoneal free air. There is a small amount of free fluid within the mesentery. Numerous enlarged lymph nodes are present within the mesentery.

Bilateral large, necrotic / septated cystic adrenal masses are identified.  The right is larger than the left measuring 7.4 x 6.5 x 10.7 cm with a solid component inferiorly measuring 3.1 x 1.7 x 2.2 cm. The mass displaces the adjacent liver and kidney. There is some compressive effect on the IVC, although above the mass the IVC fills normally. The left adrenal mass measures 6.4 x 4.1 x 5.1 cm.

There is a large hypodense lesion in the right kidney measuring 6.4 x 5.2 cm, with the characteristics of a simple cyst. The left kidney, spleen, pancreas, stomach and colon are unremarkable. No suspicious osseous lesions identified.


Intussusception of the small bowel with probable nodular lead point.

Bilateral large adrenal cystic / necrotic masses. Differentials for the adrenal masses include bilateral pheochromocytomas / adrenal carcinomas or much more likely large adrenal metastases. 

It is likely that these findings all represent the same malignancy, most likely metastatic. 

The patient went on to have a laparotomy and resection of both an andrenal gland and a segment of small bowel. 



1.  "Right adrenal gland":  A disrupted lobulated irregularly shaped piece of tissue weighing 68g and measuring 120x40x30mm.  The lesion appears to contain fat and areas of haemorrhage.  The lesion has not been inked.  Slicing reveals a pale rubbery focally haemorrhagic, focally viscous cut surface with central cystic degeneration. Normal residual adrenal parenchyma is not seen. 

2.  "Small bowel":  A segment of small bowel measuring 100x40mm.  The attached mesentery measures 15mm wide.  Located 20mm from the nearest resection margin is a polypoid tumour with surface ulceration measuring 40mm in maximum dimension.  The surrounding serosa is rugged and has been inked blue.  The tumour has a firm cream cut surface and is focally haemorrhagic.  It invades through muscularis propria and to the serosa.  


1.  Sections show adrenal gland which has been replaced by tumour. The tumour consists of sheets of tumour cells which have large cells. The cells in areas have large irregular folded nuclei and in some areas show prominent nuclear grooves and small nucleoli.  There is a moderate amount of eosinophilic cytoplasm seen.  In some areas the cells have a slightly epithelioid nature in the cytoplasm but in other areas are spindled.

2.  Sections show small bowel which has a tumour located within the bowel wall which ulcerates through the mucosa.  The tumour consists of sheets of tumour cells which have a similar morphology to the adrenal mass. Tumour invades through the full thickness of the bowel wall.  No angiolymphatic involvement is seen. Up to 13 mitosis per 10 hpf are present. No necrosis is seen.  Tumour extends into the muscularis propria but does not appear to penetrate through the serosa. 

Immunohistochemistry shows tumour cells are positive with S-100, mlan-A and HMB-45. Focal positive with CD117.  Negative in Cam5.2, CD20, CD45, Desmin, AE1/AE3, CD34, calretinin, CD3, CD30 and DOG-1.


  1. Right adrenal gland:  Malignant Melanoma
  2. Small bowel:  Malignant melanoma

Case Discussion

In an adult a lead point should always be sought when symptomatic intussusception is identified. Melanoma is one of the more common malignancies to go to bowel. 

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Case information

rID: 21848
Published: 22nd Feb 2013
Last edited: 11th Apr 2020
Inclusion in quiz mode: Included

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