Fine Needle Aspiration

Fine Needle Aspiration

Fine needle aspiration biopsy, also called a fine needle aspiration cytology, is a type of procedure used for diagnosing lumps or masses under the skin. This procedure uses a thin and hollow needle to be inserted into the bass or bump and take a sample of the cells. Those are viewed under a microscope to find out what they are, where they’re from, and if the mass is cancerous or not. It is a minor, safe procedure usually done as an outpatient procedure.

Why the Fine Needle Aspiration Procedure

The reason doctors and surgeons like to use the fine needle aspiration procedure is because it is less traumatic and safer overall as compared to an open surfical biopsy. There are very few complications that come from doing a fine needle aspiration. Some of the possible complications include soreness or bruising, though they are less severe than other biopsy procedures. The biopsy is very small, where the needle takes only a few cells from the mass.


There are two reasons why a sampling of the mass during the biopsy is done. The first reason is to find out the nature of a mass or lump. Another reason is for known tumors, to perform a biopsy and assess what type of treatment is necessary. If the lump can be easily felt and accessed, a surgeon or a cytopathologist will perform the fine needle aspiration biopsy. It may also need to be performed by an interventional radiologist, which is a doctor with special training in certain biopsy procedures.

Preparing for the Procedure

Here are some steps to take in order to prepare for the fine needle aspiration procedure. First, avoid the use of any aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like naproxen or ibuprofen for a week before the procedure. You should also not eat anything starting a few hours before the procedure and you may need routine blood work to be sure you don’t have a blood clotting disorder. You will also need to stop taking any blood anticoagulant medications. Shortly before the procedure, your vitals will be checked including your blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.

After the Procedure

Once the procedure is completed, you will be given analgesic medications to help control some of the post-procedural pain and discomfort. Infection is rare though you will be given antibiotics if the doctors see any type of infection. Bleeding is fairly common and you may also have some bruising or soreness for a week or so.

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