Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) Biopsy


Neck and thyroid lumps may be easily palpated and seen on scans, but frequently it is necessary to take a sample of cells from the lump to determine its exact nature. FNA can often distinguish between benign and malignant neck lumps and cysts.


FNA is often performed with ultrasound guidance to ensure that an accurate sample is taken. Local anaesthetic is usually injected to numb the skin, and then a thin needle is inserted through the skin into the lump. The needle may need to be moved in and out of the lump 3-4 times to obtain an adequate sample and is then withdrawn from the skin. A small amount of bleeding can occur briefly afterwards and occasionally some tenderness or bruising can last a few days. The sample has to be processed and then carefully examined by a doctor called a cytologist afterwards. This means the result may take several days to come back. Occasionally the sample may be inadequate and a repeat sample may be required. This occurs in less than 10% of samples.

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