Fine-needle aspiration biopsy of the salivary gland: problem cases

Diagn Cytopathol. 1993;9(2):216-24; discussion 224-5. doi: 10.1002/dc.2840090222.


Among 582 fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies of major and minor salivary glands performed between 1974 and 1990, lack of cytological histologic correlation was noted in 21 cases. Of these, the cause in 10 FNAs was inadequate cytological sampling of the lesion. [One case of malignant hemangiopericytoma was tentatively diagnosed as a monomorphic adenoma on FNA, a polymorphic T-cell lymphoma was diagnosed as granulomatous inflammation on aspiration biopsy, a benign lymphoepithelial lesion was diagnosed as a reactive lymph node, a branchial cleft cyst was called benign mixed tumor (BMT), one case of chronic sialoadenitis was called BMT by FNA, two cases of benign lymphoepithelial lesion (BLEL) were diagnosed as cystic Warthin's tumor, two low-grade mucoepidermoid carcinomas were called BMT, and a BMT was cytologically diagnosed as a Warthin's tumor with squamous metaplasia versus low-grade mucoepidermoid carcinoma. One case of low-grade mucoepidermoid carcinoma was diagnosed only as a "cyst."] Review of these cases identifies constant features that permit differentiation between Warthin's tumor and BLEL, and among BMT, mucoepidermoid carcinoma, and chronic sialoadenitis. Despite a few problem cases, FNA of the salivary gland is accurate in the preoperative diagnosis and classification of salivary gland neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenolymphoma / pathology
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology*