Image-guided lymph node fine-needle aspiration: the Johns Hopkins Hospital experience

Susan Shyu, Ankit Rajgariah, Carla Saoud, Nicholas Rogers, Syed Z. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Although the diagnostic utility of lymph node fine-needle aspiration (FNA) is well established in the evaluation of metastatic malignancy, its value in the diagnosis of lymphoma is more controversial; yet, there is a growing trend among practitioners towards less-invasive procedures such as FNA and core needle biopsy (CNB). The guidelines recently published by the American Society for Clinical Pathology/College of American Pathology (CAP) regarding the workup of lymphoma include recommendations on the value and limitations of FNA. Materials and methods: We reviewed 1237 image-guided lymph node aspirates from 695 procedures (410 nodes from 360 ultrasound [US]-guided cases, 799 from 309 endobronchial ultrasound [EBUS], 25 from 23 endoscopic ultrasound [EUS], and 3 from 3 computed tomography [CT]). Results: The majority (40 of 46, 87%) of lymph nodes suspected of lymphomatous involvement were aspirated under ultrasound. Core needle biopsy [CNB] was obtained for 41 (89%) lymph nodes, including all 40 US specimens. Flow cytometry (FC) was performed on 37 (80%) aspirates; aspirates without FC were from patients who had a history of Hodgkin lymphoma, or showed granulomata or non-hematologic malignancy onsite. Thirty-one (67%) lymph nodes were sent for review by hematopathology. Forty-two (91%) lymph node FNA/CNB yielded actionable diagnoses. Seventeen of 241(7%) cases aspirated for other indications (14 US, 3 EBUS) were involved by a lymphoproliferative process. All were reviewed by hematopathology. All 14 US cases had FC and CNB. Conclusion: Our institutional approach towards lymph node cytopathology for lymphoma workup appears to be in accordance with the new CAP guidelines, and demonstrates a potential triage and workflow model for lymph node FNA specimens that allows for accurate diagnosis in cases where lymphoma is a consideration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)543-557
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the American Society of Cytopathology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Cytopathology
  • Fine-needle aspiration
  • Flow cytometry
  • Image-guided
  • Lymph nodes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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