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Pulmonary Pathology Online

Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology

 Dr Sampurna Roy MD  




An increase in the use of FNA for sampling lung tumours has led to the need for all cytopathologists to be familiar with the findings in such specimens.

Under CT or ultrasound guidance, transthoracic FNA sampling has a high success rate.

Transbronchial FNA has also proved effective in the diagnosis of some submucosal tumors and mediastinal lymphnode metastases.

Ideally, alcohol fixed Papanicolaou stained and air-dried Giemsa stained slides should both be provided as each gives complementary information.

Adequacy of sampling is determined by the possibility of making a diagnosis, which is dependent upon sufficient material, appropriately fixed and stained, with spare slides and/or needle washing fluid for special stains.

Cell blocks are helpful for immunostaining.

When the needle misses the tumour mass the aspirate consists of some alveolar macrophages and a few small flat fragments of normal bronchial epithelium.

Small sheets of mesothelial cells may be seen in transthoracic samples.


Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Adenocarcinoma

Bronchioloalveolar Cell Carcinoma

Small Cell Carcinoma

Non Small Cell and Large Cell Carcinoma

Carcinoid Tumours



Further reading:

Fine needle aspiration biopsy of the lung.

Fine needle aspiration cytology of lung lesions: a clinicopathological and cytopathological review of  150 cases with emphasis on the relation between the number of passes and the incidence of pneumothorax. 

Fine needle aspiration cytology of pulmonary lesions: a reliable diagnostic test.

Fine needle aspiration biopsy cytology of pulmonary tumors.

Immediate assessment of fine needle aspiration cytology of lung.



Dr Sampurna Roy  MD

Consultant  Histopathologist (Kolkata - India)






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