Utility of fine-needle aspiration as a diagnostic technique in lymphoma

Sean T. Hehn, Thomas M. Grogan, Thomas P. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

230 Scopus citations


Purpose: To evaluate, from a clinician's perspective, the sensitivity and specificity of fine-needle aspiration (FNA) as a technique for the diagnosis of lymphoma. Patients and Methods: Medical records of 470 new patients seen in one lymphoma specialist's clinic from January 1998 through December 2002 were reviewed. Ninety-nine (21%) of the 470 patients underwent a total of 115 FNA procedures, which were assessed by more than 70 different pathologists in 32 different pathology departments. Subsequent excisional biopsies were performed in 67 of these patients and interpreted by a single hematopathology group without independent review. Results: Of 115 FNA procedures, 93 were completed for the initial evaluation of lymphoma and 22 were done for assessment of relapsed disease. Of the 93 FNA attempts at initial diagnosis, only 27 (29%) were given a specific and complete histologic diagnosis using an accepted classification system (Working Formulation, Revised European-American Classification of Lymphoid Neoplasms, WHO). For the 22 FNAs done for recurrent disease, only nine (41%) were classified using an accepted system. Sixty-seven (72%) of the 93 FNAs performed for the evaluation of initial disease had subsequent excisional biopsies. Among these paired comparisons, only eight (12%) of 67 FNA diagnoses were correlated with the subsequent excisional biopsy diagnosis. Immunophenotyping was completed on 24 of the 67 paired FNAs. Seven of the 24 FNAs with immunophenotyping (29%) were correlated with subsequent histology on excisional biopsy. Only one (2%) of 43 FNA diagnoses, based on morphology alone, was correlated with subsequent excisional biopsy diagnosis. Conclusion: Overall, FNA for lymphoma diagnosis is not helpful, not cost effective, and in addition may misguide treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3046-3052
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Utility of fine-needle aspiration as a diagnostic technique in lymphoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this