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Thyroid. 2001 Oct;11(10):973-6.

Twenty-one-gauge needles provide more cellular samples than twenty-five-gauge needles in fine-needle aspiration biopsy of the thyroid but may not provide increased diagnostic accuracy.

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Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Massachusetts 02118, USA.


The technique of fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy of the thyroid is important to evaluate malignancy in thyroid nodules. Eighty-five percent of thyroid FNA procedures lead to sufficient cellular material for diagnosis. With more cells aspirated, the chance of sufficiency for diagnosis increases. Large-bore needles lead to more cellular material being aspirated but bloodier specimens that may interfere with cytologic interpretation. Small-bore needles may result in too few cells for diagnosis. We conducted a randomized prospective study contrasting 21-gauge and 25-gauge needles in the evaluation of 50 consecutively enrolled nodules at our institution. In our investigation, 21-gauge needles more frequently provided superior biopsy specimens (50%) than did 25-gauge needles (18%). In the remaining specimens (32%), the 21-gauge and 25-gauge needles provided similar cellular material. The rate of sufficient samples was the same. We conclude that use of 21-gauge needles results in more cellular specimens but may not result in increased diagnostic accuracy.

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