Lung lesions: cytologic diagnosis by fine-needle biopsy

Radiology. 1987 Feb;162(2):389-91. doi: 10.1148/radiology.162.2.3797651.


Small-bore (22- or 23-gauge) needles were used to aspirate 458 lung masses. Sensitivity for the detection of malignancy by this method was 96.6% (312 of 323 patients); accuracy was 98.7%. Surgical confirmation was available for comparison in over half of patients with malignancy. Histologic reclassification of malignancy occurred in only 6.1% of patients, with significant misclassification (misdiagnosis of small cell carcinoma) occurring in only two instances. One hundred thirteen of 117 nonmalignant conditions were properly categorized, with an overall specificity of 96.6%. No major complication occurred. While several recent studies have stressed the advantage of using larger needles, to overcome the limitation of smaller aspiration needles that provide only cytologic material, small-needle aspiration appears to be a safe, reliable, and accurate means for diagnosing lung lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy, Needle* / adverse effects
  • Cytodiagnosis
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged