A fine needle aspiration biopsy is a quick, minimally invasive diagnostic procedure used to help figure out what that lump or bump (mass or nodule) is. It is used to diagnose masses in the thyroid, head and neck, salivary glands, lymph nodes, and breasts. Here’s what you need to know about the procedure.
Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy vs. Surgical Biopsy
A surgical biopsy is pretty much what it sounds like – it requires anesthetic (and sometimes general anesthesia), an incision, possibly stitches, and a longer recovery process. A fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy, on the other hand, is performed with a very thin needle and a local anesthetic. An FNA biopsy can be performed in a doctor’s office and in most cases, you can return to your normal activities soon afterwards. An FNA biopsy is typically less expensive than other biopsies.
Importance of Getting Tested Early
If a lump is found in an area like the breast or thyroid gland, there’s really no way to tell exactly what it is without taking a sample of the abnormal tissue. An FNA biopsy can help solve this problem quickly. When it comes to a possibility of cancer, the sooner you get the test done, the better. An early diagnosis can relieve your anxiety if the results are negative or can allow for treatment planning as soon as possible. Early treatment is always better when dealing with cancer.
Why Choose Dr. Nadelman’s Office?
Any physician can perform a biopsy, but very few get diagnostic results. Why is that? The sample that is sent to the lab for analysis oftentimes isn’t prepared well or doesn’t have enough tissue to make a correct diagnosis. Studies have shown that the diagnostic accuracy increases when the doctor performing the biopsy procedure is the same as the doctor analyzing the biopsy material. Not only does Dr. Nadelman have extensive experience in FNA biopsy techniques, she is also a board certified cytopathologist and pathologist. This allows her to analyze the tissue in her on-site laboratory, giving more accurate, faster results—sometimes within a day.
What to Expect During a Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy
Little preparation is usually needed for an FNA biopsy. However, if you are taking anything that would thin the blood, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, you may be told to stop them for several days prior to the procedure.
When you arrive at Dr. Nadelman’s office for the biopsy, you will be shown to a procedure room where Dr. Nadelman will perform a focused history and physical exam. Then, she and the sonographer will use an ultrasound to identify the area of concern. The skin over the procedure area will then be thoroughly cleaned, and you’ll receive a local anesthetic to numb the area. Dr. Nadelman will insert a very thin needle through the skin into the area of abnormal tissue. In most cases, the procedure itself takes only about 10 minutes.
Also, as Dr. Nadelman has a microscope in the procedure room, she can determine if the biopsy sample is adequate for analysis or further testing. This helps prevent having to visit the office again to re-do the procedure. Afterwards, Dr. Nadelman’s on-site laboratory is able to examine the samples further and make a diagnosis. Having an on-site laboratory allows for the results to be available to your referring doctor in a very short time period.
An FNA biopsy is quick, and a relatively simple procedure. Downtime, discomfort, bleeding and swelling are minimal. If the area does become sore, ice or over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen, may be used to alleviate discomfort.
Please contact us if you have questions or want to schedule an appointment.