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.
- fine needle aspiration cytology
- head and neck ultrasound
- salivary gland