Utility of ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration cytology in assessing malignancy in head and neck pathology

Guido Rindi, Jacopo Galli, Gaetano Paludetti, Gianluigi Petrone, Livia Petrelli, Daniela Rizzo, Francesco Bussu, Antonio Piras, Gabriella Garofalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is a well-established diagnostic procedure for head and neck masses not clearly originating from mucosal or cutaneous surfaces. We analysed head and neck masses evaluated over a 2-year period, to assess the reliability of FNAC for the evaluation of malignancy. Methods: We enrolled all patients undergoing FNAC, from April 2013 to July 2015, in a single service of a large Italian university hospital. Relevant clinical data and ultrasonographic parameters of the lesions were recorded. We performed both conventional and thin-prep smears. Clinical presentation, ultrasonographic features and final cytology diagnoses were analysed and correlated with histology. Results: The series included 301 lesions in 285 patients, with a single (94.4%) or two (5.6%) lesions. Only eight samples were considered non-diagnostic/inadequate (2.6%). Among the cases, 139 FNAC (46.1%) underwent surgery. Cytological-histological correspondence was found in 89% of the cases. Concerning malignancy, we documented less than 4% false positives and less than 2.5% false negatives, with 92.7% sensitivity and 94.6% specificity. Conclusion: FNAC diagnosis can be highly specific. Most importantly, it is highly reliable in assessing malignancy, thus defining the priority and guiding the management procedures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)N/A-N/A
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • adequacy
  • cytology
  • fine needle aspiration cytology
  • head and neck ultrasound
  • salivary gland

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