Fine-needle aspiration cytology of Hodgkin disease: a study of 89 cases with emphasis on false-negative cases

Cancer. 2001 Feb 25;93(1):52-9. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20010225)93:1<52::aid-cncr9007>;2-3.


INTRODUCTION. Although the cytologic features of Hodgkin disease (HD) has been well described, HD accounts for most of the false-negative fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies of malignant lymphomas. In this study, the authors examined the factors contributing to a false-negative diagnosis of HD.

Methods: Eighty-nine cases from 72 patients (23 females and 49 males) with HD evaluated by FNA were identified between 1990 and 1999. The patients' ages ranged from 5 to 90 years (median, 38 years). Eighty-five FNAs were from lymph nodes, and 4 were from extranodal sites. Histologic correlation was available for all patients.

Results: Based on the original cytologic diagnosis, 43 (48.3%) cases had a positive diagnosis of HD, 20 (22.5%) suspicious or atypical diagnosis, 13 (14.6%) a benign diagnosis (false-negative cases), and 10 (11.2%) were nondiagnostic. Three (3.4%) additional cases had a malignant diagnosis other than HD. After review, three false-negative cases were reclassified as HD and seven as atypical lymphoid proliferation. Three of these 10 cases also showed conspicuous collections of histiocytes mimicking poorly formed granulomas. In those "atypical" cases, only rare Reed-Sternberg (R-S) cells variants were identified. No R-S cells or its variants were identified in the remaining three false-negative cases; subsequent excisional biopsy showed partial involvement of the lymph node by HD in two cases. Among the nondiagnostic cases, nine cases showed considerable fibrosis in the resected lymph node. In addition, six cases were performed without on-site assessment.

Conclusions: The cytologic diagnosis of HD can be challenging when classic R-S cells are absent. Contributing factors for a false-negative diagnosis include obscuring reactive inflammatory cells, fibrosis of the involved lymph nodes, partial involvement of the lymph node by HD, sampling error, and misinterpretation. On-site assessment significantly minimizes the false-negative diagnostic rate. Furthermore, additional material can be obtained for ancillary studies. Cancer (Cancer Cytopathol)

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy, Needle*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Female
  • Hodgkin Disease / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged