Fine-needle aspiration

Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) is a diagnostic procedure used to investigate lumps or masses. In this technique, a thin (23–25 gauge (0.52 to 0.64 mm outer diameter)), hollow needle is inserted into the mass for sampling of cells that, after being stained, are examined under a microscope (biopsy). The sampling and biopsy considered together are called fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) or fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) (the latter to emphasize that any aspiration biopsy involves cytopathology, not histopathology). Fine-needle aspiration biopsies are very safe minor surgical procedures. Often, a major surgical (excisional or open) biopsy can be avoided by performing a needle aspiration biopsy instead, eliminating the need for hospitalization. In 1981, the first fine-needle aspiration biopsy in the United States was done at Maimonides Medical Center.[1] Today, this procedure is widely used in the diagnosis of cancer and inflammatory conditions.

Fine-needle aspiration
Micrograph of a needle aspiration biopsy specimen of a salivary gland showing adenoid cystic carcinoma. Pap stain.
MeSHD044963

Aspiration is safer and far less traumatic than an open biopsy; complications beyond bruising and soreness are rare. However, the few problematic cells can be too few (inconclusive) or missed entirely (a false negative).


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