Curschmann's spiral: This very large spiral was found in lavage fluid from an asthmatic patient being evaluated for a lung mass. Many of these structures were present. The Papanicolaou stain gives a reddish core with a fuzzy margin to which many cells are attached secondarily. The arrow points out a macrophage for comparison of size. The spiral is about 1 mm long.

These spirals, composed of a mucosubstance, may be seen in sputum, as well as lavage fluid. They can occasionally be found in histologic sections of mucus in conditions other than asthma. Although first described in respiratory secretions of asthmatics, they also occur unrelated to asthma in vaginal secretions, and rarely in pleural and peritoneal effusions [1].


1. Naylor B. Curschmann's spirals in pleural and peritoneal effusions. Acta Cytol 1990; 34:474-478.