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Keywords:

  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • micronucleus;
  • liver fine needle aspiration;
  • cytology

C.-H. Wen, C.-H. Lin, S.-C. Tsao, Y.-C. Su, M.-H. Tsai and C.-Y. Chai Micronucleus scoring in liver fine needle aspiration cytology

Objective:  This study evaluated the role of the micronucleus (MN) in liver fine needle aspiration (FNA) cytology.

Methods:  Histological features of 75 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), of which 25 were well differentiated, 37 moderately differentiated and 13 poorly differentiated, and 58 benign hepatic lesions (total, 133 cases) were correlated with MN expression observed in FNA smears reported as benign (n = 40), atypical (n = 14), suspicious (n = 30) and malignant (n = 49).

Results:  Stepwise increases in the MN score (0.4 ± 0.6, 1.2 ± 1.3, 6.3 ± 4.2 and 14.3 ± 8.8) correlated with the degree of cytological abnormality: benign, atypia, suspicious and malignant, respectively. The mean MN scores for well-, moderately and poorly differentiated HCC were 5.4 ± 2.2, 11.5 ± 4.5 and 24.9 ± 9.1, respectively, which was significantly different between malignant and suspicious (P < 0.0001), between suspicious and atypical (P = 0.008) but not between atypical and benign. The MN scores differed significantly between all degrees of differentiation of HCC and between the HCC and benign hepatic lesions (P < 0.0001). High sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of liver FNA for diagnosing HCC (96%, 98%, and 96%, respectively) were obtained at a cutoff of three for the MN score.

Conclusions:  The MN score is an effective HCC biomarker and has a good potential use as an ancillary tool for diagnosing HCC using FNA cytology.