Background: Breast fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is an invasive investigation which can be uncomfortable or distressing. This randomized study investigated the discomfort of breast FNAC and the effect of different techniques.
Methods: Some 116 FNAC samples were taken from 98 women with a palpable breast mass. Each patient was randomized to one of four study groups; aspiration was performed using a green-hub (21 G) or blue-hub (23 G) needle, either with or without local anaesthetic. Each patient scored the pain of the whole procedure using a visual analogue scale.
Results: A green-hub needle caused significantly more discomfort (mean(s.e.m.) pain score 5.1(0. 4) cm) than a blue-hub needle (2.9(0.4) cm), or either a blue- or green-hub needle with local anaesthetic (3.0(0.4) and 2.1(0.4) cm respectively) (F = 10.28, 3112 d.f., P < 0.01, analysis of variance).
Conclusion: The discomfort of breast FNAC is dependent upon the gauge of the needle and the use of local anaesthetic. A blue-hub needle without local anaesthetic should be first choice for breast FNAC.