Diagnostic use of fine-needle aspiration cytology and core-needle biopsy in head and neck sarcomas

Head Neck. 2021 Jun;43(6):1939-1948. doi: 10.1002/hed.26670. Epub 2021 Mar 9.


The diagnostic role of fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) and core-needle biopsy (CNB) has not been comprehensively assessed in head and neck sarcomas. A systematic review of published cases (1990-2020) was conducted. Diagnostic performance of both FNAC/CNB to determine tumor dignity and histopathological diagnosis was calculated. One hundred and sixty-eight cases were included for which FNAC (n = 156), CNB (n = 8), or both (n = 4) were used. Predominant histologies were skeletal muscle, chondrogenic and vascular sarcomas. FNAC correctly assessed dignity in 76.3% and histology in 45% of cases. Dignity was significantly better for vascular tumors, metastatic and recurrent specimens, and worse for chondrogenic sarcomas. CNB showed a 92% accuracy to identify dignity and 83% for histopathology. FNAC and CNB are useful methods for the diagnosis of head and neck sarcomas, particularly well-suited in the context of recurrent or metastatic disease. The role of CNB remains largely unexplored for this indication.

Keywords: core-needle biopsy; diagnostic value; fine-needle aspiration cytology; head and neck sarcoma; systematic review of published cases.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Biopsy, Large-Core Needle
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Sarcoma* / diagnosis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Soft Tissue Neoplasms*