Optimizing cytological specimens of EUS-FNA of solid pancreatic lesions: A pilot study to the effect of a smear preparation training for endoscopy personnel on sample quality and accuracy

Diagn Cytopathol. 2021 Feb;49(2):295-302. doi: 10.1002/dc.24645. Epub 2020 Oct 24.


Background: In the absence of rapid on-side pathological evaluation, endoscopy staff generally "smears" endoscopic ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) specimens on a glass slide. As this technique is vulnerable to preparation artifacts, we assessed if its quality could be improved through a smear-preparation-training for endoscopy staff.

Methods: In this prospective pilot study, 10 endosonographers and 12 endoscopy nurses from seven regional EUS-centers in the Netherlands were invited to participate in a EUS-FNA smear-preparation-training. Subsequently, post training slides derived from solid pancreatic lesions were compared to pre-training "control" slides. Primary outcome was to assess if the training positively affects smear quality and, consequently, diagnostic accuracy of EUS-FNA of solid pancreatic lesions.

Results: Participants collected and prepared 71 cases, mostly pancreatic head lesions (48%). Sixty-eight controls were selected from the pretraining period. The presence of artifacts was comparable for smears performed before and after training (76% vs 82%, P = .36). Likewise, smear cellularity (≥50% target cells) before and after training did not differ (44% (30/68) vs 49% (35/71), P = .48). Similar, no difference in diagnostic accuracy for malignancy was detected (P = .10).

Conclusion: In this pilot EUS-FNA smear-preparation-training for endoscopy personnel, smear quality and diagnostic accuracy were not improved after the training. Based on these results, we plan to further study other training programs and possibilities.

Keywords: EUS-guided tissue sampling; cytopathology; smear; training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration / methods
  • Endoscopy / methods
  • Endosonography / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laboratory Personnel
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreas / pathology*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult