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Cytojournal. 2019 Aug 22;16:16. doi: 10.4103/cytojournal.cytojournal_43_18. eCollection 2019.

Transthoracic fine-needle aspiration diagnosis of solid, subsolid, and partially calcified lung nodules: A retrospective study from a single academic center.

Author information

Address: Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Department of Radiology, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Center for Transplantation Sciences, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA.



The large-scale National Lung Cancer Screening Trial demonstrated an increased detection of early-stage lung cancers using low-dose computed tomography scan in the screening population. It also demonstrated a 20% reduction of lung cancer-related deaths in these patients.


Although both solid and subsolid lung nodules are evaluated in studies, subsolid and partially calcified lung nodules are often overlooked.

Materials and Methods:

We reviewed transthoracic fine-needle aspiration (FNA) cases from lung nodule patients in our clinics and correlated cytological diagnoses with radiologic characteristics of lesions. A computer search of the pathology archive was performed over a period of 12 months for transthoracic FNAs, including both CT- and ultrasound-guided biopsies.


A total of 111 lung nodule cases were identified. Lesions were divided into three categories: solid, subsolid, and partially calcified nodules according to radiographic findings. Of 111 cases, the average sizes of the solid (84 cases), subsolid (22 cases), and calcified (5 cases) lesions were 1.952 ± 2.225, 1.333 ± 1.827, and 1.152 ± 1.984 cm, respectively. The cytological diagnoses of three groups were compared. A diagnosis of malignancy was made in 64.28% (54 cases) in solid, 22.72% (5 cases) in subsolid, and 20% (1 case) in partially calcified nodules. Among benign lesions, eight granulomatous inflammations were identified, including one case of solid, five cases of subsolid, and two cases of calcified nodules.


Our study indicates that solid nodules have the highest risk of malignancy. Furthermore, the cytological evaluation of subsolid and partially calcified nodules is crucial for the accurate diagnosis and appropriate clinical management of lung nodule patients.


Cytological diagnosis; non-small cell lung carcinoma; solid; subsolid lung nodules; transthoracic fine-needle aspiration

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