oa South African Family Practice - The quality of specimens obtained by fine-needle aspiration biopsy : does training make a difference? : original research



The aim of this study was to determine the outcome of a one-hour training session on the correct technique of fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) by assessing adequacy of FNAB specimens received from clinicians at an academic hospital.

Six clinicians were recruited and their FNABs assessed, six months prior to, and then again after, a one-hour training session in correct technique. Questionnaires were completed prior to the training session and after the subsequent six-month period, to determine the subjective assessment of the clinicians' perceived value of the training on their aspiration technique.
Five of the clinicians had never received training in FNAB technique. The adequacy of the aspirates for all six clinicians did not improve, although this was not statistically significant. They performed a median of 15.5 FNABs in the six months prior to training, and 13.5 FNABs in the six-month follow-up period. Five of the six clinicians subjectively perceived the quality of the aspirates to have improved, and all six recommended the training session to their colleagues.
No improvement was noted after training, but the number of FNABs performed per clinician was suboptimal. Previous studies have shown that clinicians performing relatively few aspirates perform poorly, even if they have received adequate training. The fact that all six would recommend the training session to colleagues is encouraging, and the authors recommend that formal training in FNAB technique should be included in the undergraduate medical curriculum.


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