Someone once said that medicine is an art practiced by a scientist. Nowhere is that more true than in fine needle aspiration (FNA). The correct technique is critical for accurate samples. A certified cytopathologist is the best choice if you are looking for an FNA specialist.
FNA vs. Surgical Biopsy
In order to determine whether a lump is malignant – cancerous – cells from the area must be examined under a microscope. Those cells can be obtained with an open biopsy or an FNA biopsy. An open biopsy, as you might expect, is a surgical procedure. You need a local or general anesthetic. Most procedures are done in an outpatient surgery center or hospital. The surgeon makes an incision, or cut, in the skin and removes the questionable tissue. There is a certain amount of bleeding and tissue trauma. An FNA biopsy is done in a doctor’s office with a very tiny needle – much less discomfort, risk or bleeding and trauma to the tissue.
Why Training Matters
All doctors spend an average of 11 to 12 years in training. While that gives them the necessary skills and knowledge for basic practice, there are many technical skills that doctors acquire through additional training. Cytopathology is a good example. The doctor must know how to identify a lump or mass correctly, how to determine its exact location through the use of X-ray technology and how to obtain a good sample while minimizing tissue trauma. Finely, the doctor must know how to determine whether the lump is cancer or not.
Fine needle aspiration was once the preferred method used to diagnose breast and other cancers. Unfortunately, the medical community began to lose confidence in the procedure as it became more widespread. Too many diagnoses were inaccurate. The primary reason for this was that doctors who were not certified cytopathologists were performing the procedure. One study found that physicians without formal training in FNA techniques missed as many as one-quarter of cancers. Formally trained physicians missed only two percent. As with any technical medical skill, plenty of knowledge, experience and practice are what make FNAs accurate and useful.
The Certified Cytopathologist
A certified cytopathologist receives additional training in FNA techniques. In addition, the doctor must pass an exam specific to the specialty and complete ongoing continuing education to maintain that certification. The combination of extra training and ongoing education means that an FNA biopsy performed by a certified cytopathologist is much more likely to be accurate. From the patient’s perspective, it’s faster, can be performed in a doctor’s office, is less expensive and there is less tissue trauma than with an open biopsy.
If you find a lump or your primary physician wants to refer you to an FNA doctor Los Angeles, please contact the office of Dr. Celina Nadelman. Dr. Nadelman is board-certified in cytopathology and an FNA expert. FNA is less expensive, less time-consuming and more accurate if performed correctly.