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Bringing back to light, Transillumination.

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Dr M Habib Zubair

30 Jan 11

Dear Sir,

We have noted with interest that the phenomena of transillumination which entails shining a light through a swelling(1) or body cavity (both clinical and laparoscopic), is found in pathological entities which are located in the median sagittal or paramedian plane of the body except the ganglia. To test our observation we did a search for articles on pubmed and the evidence gathered supported our observation.

The ability of a swelling to transmit light depends upon the optical density of its contents, swellings containing clear fluid, fat and subcutaneous tissue transilluminate well1.

The examples of the above phenomena include:
cystic hygroma's (located in the neck(2), parotid gland(3), submandibular(4) and posterior neck triangle(4), meningocele (located in skull base, lumbosacral(5) and nasion(6), meningomyelocele(7), (8), hydrocephalus(9), (10), conjunctival epithelial inclusion cyst(11), (29), tuber cinereum streched from a 3rd ventricle colloid cyst(12), ranula(13), (14), thyroglossal cysts(1), laryngocele, pneumomediastinum(15), duodenal gastrinomas(16), umbilical vessels in damaged umbilicus(17), urinary bladder diverticulum(18), (19) (located in superior(20), (21) and lateral to the ureteric orifices(22), penile dorsal surface lymphatics in sclerosing lymphangitis of the penis(23), (24), hydrocele of the canal of nuck in the labia majora(25), vaginal mullerian duct cysts(26), spermatocele’s or epidydymal cysts(27), (28) and testicular hydrocele’s(27), (28).

This in our knowledge based on the search made on medline has not been reported in the literature, previously. Therefore, in the light of above observations we suggest the formulation of a rule:

“All the pathologic entities except the ganglia which tend to transilluminate (both clinically and laparoscopically) are located in the median sagital or the paramedian plane.”

Best regards,

Dr MH Zubair (1), MH Zubair (2)

1) Dow Medical College, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan. 2)Karachi Medical and Dental College, Karachi, Pakistan.


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