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J Cytol. 2013 Jan;30(1):36-41. doi: 10.4103/0970-9371.107511.

Image-guided fine-needle aspiration of retroperitoneal masses: The role of the cytopathologist.

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Department of Pathology, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India.



Retroperitoneal tumors constitute a difficult diagnostic category as they are not easily accessible. The advent of image-guided fine-needle aspiration (FNA) has resolved this problem significantly.


We present a short study based on guided aspiration of retroperitoneal tumors, in which we have tried to assess the role of image-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology as a tool for pre-operative diagnosis.


The study was conducted on patients diagnosed with retroperitoneal masses. FNA was performed under image guidance with the help of ultrasonography and/or computed tomography; smears were prepared and meticulously screened according to a fixed protocol. The results were analyzed to determine sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic efficacy of cytopathological diagnosis using image-guided FNA techniques.


We assessed 38 patients with retroperitoneal masses. In all cases, adequate cellular material was obtained. No major complications were encountered. Statistical analysis was carried out in 35 cases; sensitivity, specificity, and diagnostic accuracy were 100% in these cases.


FNA under image guidance should be considered a first-line diagnostic approach for retroperitoneal and other abdominal tumors, although caution should be exercised in case selection. In areas where advanced tests are not available, the cytotechnologist and cytopathologist have a very important role to play in ensuring accurate diagnoses.


Fine-needle aspiration; image guidance; retroperitoneal masses

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