Large B-cell lymphomas: fine-needle aspiration plays an important role in initial diagnosis of cases which are falsely negative by flow cytometry

Diagn Cytopathol. 2002 Nov;27(5):282-5. doi: 10.1002/dc.10192.


Large B-cell lymphomas (LBCLs) have significant false-negative results when immunophenotyped by flow cytometry (FC). To clarify the role fine-needle aspiration (FNA) in reducing this false-negative rate, 28 cases ultimately diagnosed as LBCL that had FNA as part of the workup and a negative FC were identified. We examined their clinical and cytologic features, in comparison with cases of LBCL with FNAs that were positive by FC. In 24/28 FC-negative cases (86%) a cytologic diagnosis of suspicious or positive for malignancy was rendered. We conclude that cytologic analysis is more sensitive than FC in the diagnosis of malignancy in FNA of LBCL, particularly in aspirates with low cellularity and/or low viability. Examination of cytospin preparations of the actual material analyzed by FC may provide an indication that an FC result is falsely negative. It is important to recognize the potential of false-negativity by FC of LBCLs when interpreting FNAs with features suggesting lymphoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Biopsy, Needle* / methods
  • Cytodiagnosis
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / metabolism
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / pathology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antigens, CD