Role of fine-needle aspiration in post liver transplant patients: A clinical/cytological review

Diagn Cytopathol. 2019 May;47(5):434-438. doi: 10.1002/dc.24133. Epub 2018 Dec 28.


Background: Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of superficial and deep-seated lesions has been used with high sensitivity and specificity in the diagnosis of neoplastic and nonneoplastic lesions. However, literature of FNA in posttransplant patients is sparse, especially in postliver transplant. We undertook a retrospective study to evaluate the utility of FNA in the clinical management of post liver transplant patients.

Methods: We searched our institution's surgical/cytologic databases (November1993-February2016) to identify liver transplant cases and FNA procedures performed on allograft liver recipients. Institutional IRB approval was obtained for this study.

Results: 886 liver allograft recipients were reviewed, 41(5%) of which were transplanted for hepatocellular carcinoma. 62/886(7%) underwent an FNA procedure. 39males and 23females included with mean age of 58years. Mean time between transplant and FNA was 34months. 21/62(34%) were malignant neoplasms, most common malignancy was adenocarcinoma: 8cases(3lung,3pancreas,1colon,1cholangiocarcinoma)and 8cases of transplanted hepatocellular carcinoma patients had recurrence, 6 in the allograft liver and 1case each of metastasis to the iliac bone and periportal lymph node. 3cases were squamous-cell carcinoma (2lung and 1scalp). 2cases were posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders. 34/62(55%) cases were benign aspirates from various organs (8lung,6liver,5pancreas,4breast,3thyroid,3lymph-nodes and 1case each of salivary gland, bile-duct,intraabdominal,abdominal wall,and oral cavity) 0.6/62(10%) cases were inflammatory. 22cases had histologic correlation: 5true-positives,16true-negatives,1false-negative (a patient with parotid mucoepidermoid carcinoma whose FNA diagnosis was sialadenitis), and no false-positive. The sensitivity was 83% and the specificity was 100%. The positive predictive value was 100% and the negative predictive value was 94%.

Conclusions: This review shows that 40/62(65%) of the aspirates were benign lesions, indicating that a conservative approach is recommended in the clinical management of these patients, especially since the interval between transplant and FNA was on average 34months. FNA is a safe, minimally invasive method to follow-up these patients.

Keywords: FNA; fine-needle aspiration; hepatocellular carcinoma; liver; transplant.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle / standards
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Liver Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / pathology*
  • Transplant Recipients / statistics & numerical data*