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Did a quick nasal smear. Opacified ethmoid cell may not be pressing lamina papyracea. What is this bizarre thing?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 1991
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I did a quick nasal smear this evening and found something bizarre. Amongst all the white blood cells and mucus is something for which I have no explanation. I'm reminded of gently telling my students that what they are looking at is an air bubble, not a cell. Surely there must be some such explanation!

I have an opacified ethmoid cell that may - or may not - be pressing on the lamina papyracea, and may - or may not - be causing my newly-acquired strabismus. Five radiologists don't agree on whether or not the bone is intact, and the possibility of a fungal infection was brought up again. That is why I did the smear - along with the fact that it started hurting today. I have no idea if what I captured in the microscope is drainage from The Thing, but I thought it was worth a try.

I'm seeing an ENT and have also been referred to an oculoplastic surgeon. So my only question is: what is this bizarre thing? Some sort of artifact?

My training is in cell and molecular biology. I've never studied microbiology or histology.

I just discovered that this service doesn't include pathologists.I figured I'd give XXXXXXX med a try, although I think it's a long shot. I don't mind if you are amused and have no answer.
Pictures now attached.
The large micrographs were at 1000X, stained with methylene blue. The smaller one was at 400X.
Posted Wed, 30 Oct 2013 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
Mast Cell. Normal finding.

Detailed Answer:

Thank you for your query.

1. The cell in the image seems to be a Mast Cell.

2. Mast cells are normally present in the nasal secretions and play an important role in allergy and immunity.

3. A pathologist's opinion would be the final confirmation.

I hope that I have answered your query. If you have any further questions, I will be available to answer them.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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