Indications for Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy of Posterior Segment Intraocular Tumors

Zélia Maria Corrêa, James Jay Augsburger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To define 4 indication categories of fine needle aspiration biopsies (FNABs) of solid intraocular tumors and describe the differences among the patients, tumors, and results of biopsy in these 4 indication categories. Methods: Retrospective descriptive analysis of 880 FNABs of a solid intraocular tumor of the posterior ocular segment performed by in the authors' ocular oncology practice during the period July 1980 through July 2014. Results: FNABs were performed as a separate procedure in 372 cases (42.3%), at plaque implantation in 279 (31.7%), post-enucleation in 225 (25.6%), and post-resection/pre-laser in 4 (0.4%). FNABs were categorized as diagnostic in 292 (33.2%), confirmatory in 121 (13.8%), investigational in 187 (21.3%), and prognostic in 280 (31.8%). Prior to the biopsy, all patients who underwent diagnostic FNAB had a tumor of uncertain pathologic type, while all patients who underwent confirmatory FNAB had a clinically diagnosed malignant intraocular neoplasm. In contrast, all patients who underwent a prognostic FNAB had an unequivocal primary posterior uveal melanoma clinically, while patients who underwent an investigational biopsy all had an unequivocal or probable malignant intraocular tumor of a specific type. Most diagnostic FNABs were performed transvitreously (n = 255, 87.3%) compared to prognostic FNABs (n = 143, 51.1%) (P <.001). Overall, 733 FNABs (83.3%) yielded a sufficient specimen for cytologic diagnosis. Diagnostic and confirmatory FNABs were the most likely to yield an insufficient aspirate (28.4% and 20.7%, respectively), while investigational and prognostic FNABs were most likely to yield sufficient specimens (94.7% and 90.0%, respectively) (P <.001). Mean post-FNAB follow-up of the entire group was 62.7 months (standard deviation [SD] = 59.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 58.7–66.6). Mean posttreatment follow-up or total follow-up of untreated patients was 53.7 months (SD = 58.7, 95% CI = 49.8–57.6). Conclusions: Because of the substantial differences shown among FNAB cases performed for different indications, it seems appropriate to report results of FNAB or other biopsy methods according to the category (indication) of the biopsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-61
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican journal of ophthalmology
StatePublished - Nov 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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