Role and accuracy of rapid on-site evaluation of CT-guided fine needle aspiration cytology of lung nodules


Ambrogio Fassina, Department of Diagnostic Medical Sciences and Special Therapies, Surgical Pathology and Cytopathology Unit, University of Padova, via Gabelli, 61 – 35100 Padova, Italy
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A. Fassina, M. Corradin, D. Zardo, R. Cappellesso, F. Corbetti and M. Fassan
Role and accuracy of rapid on-site evaluation of CT-guided fine needle aspiration cytology of lung nodules

Objective:  To prospectively investigate the role of trans-thoracic fine needle aspiration cytology (FNA) and the value of rapid on-site evaluation (ROSE) in the clinical management of patients with pulmonary nodules/masses. Computed tomography (CT)-guided FNA is commonly employed for the diagnosis of lung lesions although its position in the diagnostic work-up is still a matter of debate.

Methods:  We reviewed 311 patients (211 males and 100 females, mean age 69.5 years) admitted to the University of Padova from 2004 to 2008, correlating the results of cytology with the available histological findings obtained from biopsies, surgery or autopsy.

Results:  Smears were adequate in 305 cases (98%) and inadequate in six (2%); a diagnosis of malignancy was achieved in 263 cases (86.2%); 39 cases (12.8%) were classified as non-malignant; and three cases (1%) were classified as suspect for malignancy. When correlated with histology, FNA with ROSE discriminated malignant versus non-malignant lesions (Cohen’s kappa 0.78), with three false negatives (sensitivity 96.3%, specificity 100%). Moreover, a satisfactory overall agreement of 71.4% was achieved in differentiating the cancer histological types. Pneumothorax occurred in 13 cases, haemoptysis in four, and chest pain in three. A single aspiration was sufficient in 79.6% of patients; two aspirations were needed in 17.4% and three in 3%. The low complication rate was related to the limited number of aspirations needed due to ROSE.

Conclusions:  FNA with ROSE is a safe and useful tool in the diagnostic work-up of lung cancer patients, with no contraindications to its use as the first diagnostic procedure for all patients with peripheral lung lesions. FNA with ROSE should be reconsidered in the guidelines for diagnosing and managing lung cancer.