We characterized the pathologic spectrum of lesions in gastrointestinal and hepatic histoplasmosis by studying cases of disseminated disease in immunocompromised and immunocompetent patients from endemic and nonendemic areas. We evaluated 56 specimens from 52 patients with H&E and silver stains. Of these patients, 43% presented with gastrointestinal rather than pulmonary symptoms. Thirty-one percent had gastrointestinal lesions, 10% had liver lesions, and 43% had both. Gross gastrointestinal features included ulcers (49% of patients), nodules (21%), hemorrhage (13%), obstructive masses (6%) and normal mucosa (23%). Microscopic gastrointestinal findings included diffuse lymphohistiocytic infiltration (83%), ulceration (45%), lymphohistiocytic nodules (25%), or minimal inflammatory reaction (15%) but only rare well-formed granulomas (8.5%). The most common hepatic finding was portal lymphohistiocytic inflammation; discrete hepatic granulomas were seen in less than 20% of involved livers. The pathologist must be aware of the broad range of gastrointestinal and hepatic lesions produced by histoplasmosis and, in particular, that well-formed granulomas are rare. Given the appropriate clinical context, histoplasmosis should beconsidered in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients, regardless of pulmonary symptoms, in nonendemic as well as endemic areas.

Author notes

Dr Lamps is now with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, and Dr Scott is now with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, and the Central Arkansas Veterans’ Healthcare System, Little Rock.