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Fine-needle aspiration cytology is a widely used diagnostic tool in Scandinavian and other European countries, but until recently this procedure has been neglected and/or overlooked in the United States.
Fine-needle aspiration is a simple procedure that can be used to sample any palpable or radiographically imaged mass. The technique allows diagnosis of breast tumors, thyroiditis, thyroid carcinoma, and metastatic carcinoma to peripheral lymph nodes. Variations of the technique can be used to diagnose peripheral masses in the lung and tumors in the liver, kidney, and retroperitoneum.
Advantages of fine-needle aspiration cytology are multiple. In addition to being a simple, time-saving procedure, it is cost effective. The complication rate is low. Fine-needle aspiration reduces the number of surgical procedures, aids in planning further therapy, and provides patient peace of mind.
Fine-needle aspiration cytology diagnoses are limited by the adequacy of the sample, proper fixation and preparation of the smears, and the