Caseous necrosis

Caseous necrosis

Caseous necrosis describes a form of biological tissue death, caseous meaning it has a cheese-like appearance. The dead tissue appears as a soft and white proteinaceous dead cell mass. In caseous necrosis no histological architecture is preserved. On microscopic examination with H&E staining, it is characterized by acellular pink areas of necrosis surrounded by a granulomatous inflammatory process. Frequently, caseous necrosis is associated with tuberculosis (TB).

When the hilar lymph node for instance is infected with tuberculosis and leads to caseous necrosis, its gross appearance can be a cheesy tan to white, which is why this type of necrosis is often depicted as a combination of both coagulative and liquefactive necrosis.

However, in the lung, extensive caseous necrosis with confluent cheesy tan granulomas is typical. The tissue destruction is so extensive that there are areas of cavitation (also known as cystic spaces). See Ghon's complex.

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