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 RESEARCH
CytoJournal 2006,  3:25

Rapid assessment of fine needle aspiration and the final diagnosis--how often and why the diagnoses are changed


1 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA
2 Outpatient Pathology Associates, Sacramento, CA, USA
3 Hospital Pathology Associates, St. Paul, MN, USA
4 Department of Pathology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Edward B Stelow
Department of Pathology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.1186/1742-6413-3-25

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Background: On-site rapid interpretation (RI) of fine needle aspiration (FNA) has been shown to increase the diagnostic yield of FNA and decrease the need for repeat diagnostic procedures. Because the pathologist interprets only a fraction of the sample and has limited resources available at such times, an occasional RI diagnosis will be changed at the time of the final diagnosis. We investigated how often these changes in diagnoses occur and the possible reasons for the changes. Methods: All cytology reports from 1/1/02 to 12/31/03 from a single institution were reviewed. Cases with RI with discrepant final diagnoses were noted. The discrepant diagnoses were categorized depending on how they were changed. Possible sources for changed diagnoses were noted. Results: Between 1/1/02 and 12/31/03 there were 1368 RIs of FNAs. Of these 80 (5.8%) had discrepancies between the RIs and final diagnoses. Seventy-eight cases had additional slides and/or cell block at time of final diagnosis. 16 cases had ancillary studies available at final diagnosis. Consultant pathologists were used in 7 cases. Different pathologists interpreted the RI and final diagnosis in 31 cases. Conclusion: Although uncommon, discrepancies between RIs and final diagnoses occur 5.8% of the time at our institution. Most commonly, this involves a change of diagnosis from either "non-diagnostic" or "benign" to "malignancy". Although much of this is likely due to the presence of additional material and information at the time of final diagnosis, the number of cases that had different pathologists involved in the RI and final diagnosis suggests that inter-observer variability may also play some role. This data was originally presented at the 2005 meeting of the United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology in San Antonio, Texas, March, 2005.






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