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Keywords:

  • fine needle aspiration;
  • lymph node;
  • tumour staging

Diagnostic value of lymph node fine needle aspiration cytology: an institutional experience of 387 cases observed over a 5-year period

Lymph node fine needle aspiration (LNFNA) cytology is valuable in solving the diagnostic problems of clinical adenopathy. The usefulness of the procedure in the staging and diagnosis of various malignant and lymphoproliferative tumours, as well as its role in distinguishing reactive hyperplastic lymph nodes from lymphoma, has been documented in the literature generally on an individual basis1–12. We report our cumulative 5 year experience of LNFNA representing 387 cases. Approximately half (= 182) were diagnosed as either metastatic carcinoma or melanoma; in 54 cases (30%) excisional biopsy or tissue study was performed to confirm the diagnosis; there was only one false-positive diagnosis of a metastatic squamous carcinoma rendered on a submandibular lymph node. Sixty-one lymphoma cases were successfully diagnosed via LNFNA with no false positives; concurrent flow cytometry was utilized in 51% (= 31) of the 61 cases and supported the cytologic diagnosis of lymphoma in 27 of the 31 cases (87%). A benign or reactive lymph node process was also diagnosed via LNFNA alone or in combination with flow cytometry in 48 cases with only five false negatives, which included four cases of mantle cell lymphoma and one case of melanoma. Unsatisfactory cases accounted for 12%, and represented specimens obtained by ‘Wang needle’ or other emerging techniques. Our study demonstrates that LNFNA can be an accurate, economical and rapid diagnostic procedure.