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Definition of Xanthoma

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Xanthoma: Yellowish firm nodules in the skin frequently indicating underlying disease, such as diabetes, disorder of fats (lipid disorder or hyperlipidemia), or other conditions. A xanthoma is a kind of harmless growth of tissue.

Under the microscope, a xanthoma can be seen to be composed of lipid-laden foam cells. These cells, termed histiocytes, contain lipid material in their cytoplasm (the nonnuclear zone of the cell).

The word "xanthoma" is made up of "xanth-" from the Greek roots "xanthos" (yellow) and "oma" (swelling) = a yellow swelling. A xanthoma is a circumscribed yellow swelling, a yellowish nodule.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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