n SA Journal of Radiology - Audit on breast biopsies of non-palpable and difficult-to-access lesions : original article

Volume 10, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1027-202X
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6778



Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) is done regularly at our mammography unit on lesions that are non-palpable and difficult to access. Studies done at other hospitals on palpable and non-palpable lesions show a wide variety of results. Therefore we wanted to develop a database of information regarding FNAB results at our own unit. <BR>A retrospective descriptive study was done from the reports of all patients who had FNABs at our unit over a 1-year period (15 December 2004 - 1 December 2005). A convenient sampling of 48 women of all ages was used. Four patients did not fit the study criteria and were excluded. Cytological data were retrieved from the original reports and no standardised criteria were used to determine adequacy. <BR>Of the available cytology results 23.9% (11 of 46) were positive for malignancy, 17.4% (8 of 46) were negative for malignancy, 4.4% (2 of 46) showed atypical cells and 54.3% (25 of 46) of reported results were inconclusive. In the group of fine-needle aspirations that showed atypical cells (2 patients), neither had a follow-up ultrasound after 3 or 6 months, but both patients were followed up with a mammogram after 6 months. <BR>In patients with fine-needle aspiration results that were inconclusive, 20% were followed up with ultrasound after 3 months. After 6 months 8% had a follow-up ultrasound and 36% had a follow-up mammogram. Four per cent of the patients had a routine mammogram at 1 year and 56% were referred to the surgery department. (Some patients had more than one follow-up examination.) <BR>The aim of our audit was to develop baseline statistics regarding FNAB results for our unit. The high number of inconclusive results in our study (56.82%) could be due to the fact that FNABs of non-palpable lesions are more difficult to perform. The level of experience of each radiologist performing the aspiration as well as the skill of the cytologist should also be considered. FNABs will be continued at our unit and a follow-up study for comparison of statistics is planned. Such a comparison between studies will assist us in setting a standard for future FNAB results at our unit.

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