With a bedside manner developed during my years as a clinician, I see how important it is to view the patient’s problem wholistically. By meeting the patient personally, doing a focused history and physical exam, and viewing the lesion under ultrasound, I am in a unique position to put together all this important information in order to formulate a better, faster, more accurate diagnosis.
In addition, as a cytopathologist, only a doctor like me can do on-site evaluation of one of the slides, which allows me to see if I have enough material, or if I need to send it for other tests. This virtually eliminates the need for repeat biopsies. The specimen is then processed in my laboratory, where I then read it on my microscope and make a diagnosis. Basically, I am a one-stop shop. And because of this streamlined process, I can get better diagnostic results as quickly as possible.
In addition, as a private practice pathologist, I have close relationships with my referring doctors, and will often call them to discuss the findings very soon after I have taken a first look of the sample. Many times, a preliminary diagnosis can be given hours after the procedure. This helps to lower patient anxiety and can guide the doctor as to what to do next, in a timely fashion.
Let me share an example of how my services contributed to the best possible treatment of a patient. A patient was referred to me because of a rapidly growing thyroid lump (mass). The initial assumption was of a worst-case-scenario nature: a poorly differentiated thyroid cancer. I met with the patient, performed the biopsy and looked at the slide under a microscope. I saw immediately that it wasn’t thyroid tissue at all; but rather it was something completely different: lymphoid tissue (resembling a lymph node). Right then and there I took another sample in a separate tube to send to an outside laboratory for special testing. The results came back as Non-Hodgkin B-cell Lymphoma, and not thyroid cancer. The patient was referred to an oncologist without delay and appropriate chemotherapy was initiated. Because of this streamlined approach, surgery was avoided, which would have made the entire experience more invasive, lengthy and expensive.
When performed by the right, skilled person, an FNA can be a very powerful tool. My goal is to use that tool in a compassionate, patient-centered environment, while engaging in open and immediate communication with your referring doctor, to give my patients the best care possible.