P. Zeppa, E. Vigliar, I. Cozzolino, G. Troncone, M. Picardi, A. De Renzo, F. Grimaldi, F. Pane, A. Vetrani and L. Palombini
Fine needle aspiration cytology and flow cytometry immunophenotyping of non-Hodgkin lymphoma: can we do better?
Objective: To evaluate the diagnostic efficiency of fine needle aspiration cytology/flow cytometry (FNAC/FC) in the diagnosis and classification of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in a series of 446 cases and to compare the results with those of previous experiences to evaluate whether there had been an improvement in FNAC/FC diagnostic accuracy.
Methods: FNAC/FC was used to analyse 446 cases of benign reactive hyperplasia (BRH), NHL and NHL relapse (rNHL) in 362 lymph nodes and 84 extranodal lesions. When a diagnosis of NHL was reached, a classification was attempted combining FC data and cytological features. Sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV) of FNAC/FC in the diagnosis and classification of NHL were calculated and compared with those available in the literature.
Results: FNAC/FC provided a diagnosis of NHL and rNHL in 245 cases and of BRH in 188 cases. In nine cases, the diagnosis was ‘suggestive of NHL’ (sNHL) and in four cases was inadequate. Histology and clinical follow-up confirmed 102 cases of NHL and detected one false positive. In 18 cases of BRH diagnosed by FNAC/FC, histological examination revealed 14 BRH and four NHL (false negatives). All nine cases diagnosed as sNHL were confirmed by histology. Including sNHL cases as false negatives, statistical analysis showed 94.9% sensitivity, 99.4% specificity, 99.6% PPV and 93.4% NPV in the diagnosis of NHL. A specific subtype was diagnosed in 125 cases and confirmed in 67 of 70 cases that had histological biopsies. Statistical analysis did not demonstrate significant improvements between the present series and previous studies either in diagnosis or in classification of NHL.
Conclusions: FNAC/FC is a fundamental tool in the diagnosis and classification of NHL but the exiguity of diagnostic material and other technical and clinical limitations will probably continue to limit further improvement of the technique.