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Efficacy of fine needle aspiration cytology in the diagnosis of tuberculous cervical lymphadenopathy

  • S. K. Lau (a1), W. I. Wei (a1), C. Hsu (a2) and U. C. G. Engzell (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 June 2007

The results of a consecutive series of 1,349 fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies from the head and neck region of 1,193 patients has been reviewed in order to evaluate the efficacy of this method in the diagnosis of tuberculous lymphadenopathy (TBLN). Of the 108 patients whose fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) showed granulomatous changes, 68 had subsequent surgery and histological confirmation of the cytological appearance. Sixty-three had TBLN, thus the specificity of FNAC was 93 per cent in diagnosing tuberculous related granulomatous lymphadenopathy. One false positive FNAC was reported histologically to be metastatic mucoepidermal carcinoma.

Of the 1,193 patients, 90 patients had subsequently TBLN confirmed histologically. Of these 90 patients, FNA from 69 showed granulomatous changes or acid fast bacilli (AFB), thus the sensitivity of FNAC in detecting tuberculous lymphadenopathy was 77 per cent. Fifty-two cytological smears were stained for acid fast bacilli. Nineteen (37 per cent) contained AFB. It is evident from this review that FNAC is an efficient way to detect cervical tuberculous lymphadenopathy.

Corresponding author
Dr Sai-Kit Lau, Department of Surgery, University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong.
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