What is the role of fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) in the workup of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC)?

Updated: Jun 18, 2020
  • Author: Ponnandai S Somasundar, MD, MPH, FACS; Chief Editor: Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD  more...
  • Print

Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) is considered the best first-line diagnostic procedure for a thyroid nodule. FNAB is a safe and minimally invasive procedure.

To perform FNAB, administer local anesthesia at the puncture site, then guide the aspiration biopsy needle (21- or 23-gauge) into the mass. Hold the nodule with the fingers of the left hand while introducing the needle through the skin into the thyroid nodule with the right hand. After aspiration, the material is deposited on a glass slide, fixed with alcohol-acetone, and then stained according to the Papanicolaou test protocol.

The accuracy of FNAB results is better than any other test for detecting papillary thyroid carcinoma. The sensitivity of the procedure is near 80%, the specificity is near 100%, and errors can be diminished by using ultrasonographic guidance. False-negative and false-positive results occur less than 6% of the time, as the pathologist may experience difficulty distinguishing some benign cellular adenomas from their malignant counterparts. [43]

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!