Head and neck lymphadenopathy: evaluation with US-guided cutting-needle biopsy

Radiology. 2002 Jul;224(1):75-81. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2241010602.


Purpose: To evaluate ultrasonography (US)-guided core biopsy in the assessment of 247 patients with cervicofacial lymphadenopathy.

Materials and methods: Two hundred sixty US-guided core biopsies were performed in 247 patients with cervicofacial lymphadenopathy. The age of the patients ranged from 1 to 91 years (mean, 50 years). Seventy-four (30%) had a history of malignancy. Biopsies were performed as outpatient procedures with direct US guidance and non-advancing 16-18-gauge core needles. Hospital records were reviewed 6 months to 5 years after biopsy. Final diagnoses were rendered based on results of histologic examination of excised specimens, clinical course, or results of other laboratory studies.

Results: Two hundred thirty-eight (92%) core biopsies yielded adequate material. In 28 (11%) patients, the histologic diagnosis was considered highly probable. In the 210 patients in whom adequate material was obtained and an unequivocal histologic diagnosis was given, the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of US-guided core needle biopsy in differentiating benign from malignant lymphadenopathy were 98.1%, 100%, and 98.7%, respectively. Seventy biopsies were performed in 66 patients with lymphoma. Sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy in differentiating lymphoma from reactive lymphadenopathy were 98.5%, 100%, and 98.7%, respectively. In 53 patients (80%) with lymphoma as a final diagnosis, histologic subclassification was sufficient to guide treatment without the need for surgical biopsy. There were no major complications and only three minor post-biopsy hematomas.

Conclusion: US-guided core biopsy in patients with head and neck lymphadenopathy is a safe outpatient procedure that has a high diagnostic yield and accuracy and frequently obviates surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Face
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lymphatic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymphatic Diseases / pathology*
  • Lymphoma / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography