Pilocytic Astrocytoma (PA) characteristically exhibits biphasic morphology featuring densely fibrillar, compact regions alternating with loosely-cohesive microcystic or myxoid areas; the latter is pictured here. Diagnosis can be difficult, especially on small biopsies, but molecular testing can help. BRAF-KIAA1549 fusion occurs in about 70% of PAs, whereas BRAF V600E mutation occurs in about 5-10% of PAs.
Pilocytic astrocytoma is a circumscribed glioma (WHO Grade I) commonly found in children and young adults. Characteristic features include piloid cells with long, thin, hair-like cytoplasmic processes and a myxoid background, which are both seen here in this medium power image of a cytologic smear preparation performed during intraoperative consultation.
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Stemming from the Latin word "Pilos", meaning "resembling or composed of hair", pilocytic astrocytomas are named as such because of their long hair-like gliofibrillary processes (clear arrows) that stem off of slender bipolar nuclei (black arrows), which are best seen on smear preparation of fresh tissue (depicted here).