Role of US-guided fine-needle aspiration with on-site cytopathologic evaluation in management of nonpalpable breast lesions

Shalom S. Buchbinder, Daniel S. Gurell, Mordechai M. Tarlow, Mary Salvatore, Mark J. Suhrland, Kimberly Kader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Rationale and Objectives. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of ultrasound (US)-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA), with radiographic follow-up or surgical excision, in conjunction with on-site cytopathologic support in the management of nonpalpable breast lesions. Materials and Methods. The findings of 266 consecutive mammographically or sonographically identified, nonpalpable lesions (228 patients) that underwent US-guided FNA were examined retrospectively. Clustered microcalcifications did not undergo biopsy with this method. Patients who underwent follow-up excisional biopsy or mammography with a duration of at least 24 months were included in the study. Results. In all, 117 lesions met criteria for inclusion, of which 85 (73%) were diagnosed as benign at cytopathologic evaluation and underwent mammographic follow-up of at least 24 months (range, 24-67 months; mean, 36 months). Thirty-two lesions (27%) had either malignant or atypical cytopathologic findings, for which surgery was recommended. Eleven (9%) of the 32 had malignant cytopathologic findings from initial US-guided FNA, which were confirmed at surgical excision. The remaining 21 lesions (18%) were diagnosed as atypical on the basis of US-guided FNA results. Of these, 18 lesions underwent excisional biopsy: Two were diagnosed as carcinoma (not otherwise specified), and 16 were diagnosed with a variety of benign disorders. The remaining three patients with atypical lesions chose mammographic follow-up rather than surgical diagnosis, and their conditions have remained stable for more than 24 months. Of the 85 benign cases, one changed during follow-up (12 months) and underwent repeat biopsy, with malignancy noted. The sensitivity of US-guided FNA in identifying malignant lesions was 93% (13 of 14), and the specificity of a benign finding was 100% (102 of 102). The positive and negative predictive values of US-guided FNA supported by on-site cytopathologic evaluation were 100% (13 of 13) and 99% (102 of 103), respectively. Conclusion. Supported by appropriately trained on-site cytopathologists and in conjunction with follow-up mammography, US-guided FNA appears to be efficacious in the management of patients with abnormal radiographic findings. It is quick, relatively inexpensive, and minimally invasive, and, in the presence of competent cytopathologists, should be the modality of choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-327
Number of pages6
JournalAcademic radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Biopsy
  • Breast neoplasms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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