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Acta Cytol. 1987 May-Jun;31(3):281-4.

Fine needle aspiration of the breast. Importance of the aspirator.


All 503 fine needle aspirations (FNAs) of the breast performed over a three-year period at the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont were analyzed. There were 93 aspirates diagnosed as "positive," all of which were from patients eventually shown to have cancer. However, there were 38 patients with primary carcinoma in which the FNA was not diagnosed as positive, for a diagnostic failure rate of 31.4%. In order to determine the possible effect of technique as practiced by an experienced aspirator in diminishing such diagnostic failures, we compared 190 aspirates obtained by a single individual with 193 aspirates obtained by 15 individuals in the same community. For the single experienced aspirator, the technical failure rate was 9.8% whereas in the group with many aspirators it was 45.9%. This finding confirms that, although fine needle aspiration of the breast is considered easy to perform, skill on the part of the aspirator is important for satisfactory results.

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