Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies are used to diagnose a variety of medical conditions. Cancer is certainly at the top of the list, but an FNA can also be useful in identifying an organism that is causing an infection. Read on to learn about the role and benefits of FNA in infections, courtesy of Dr. Celina Nadelman, a top-rated biopsy doctor in Los Angeles.
Infections and Their Diagnosis
Infections in the human body can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and protozoa (one-celled organisms). From the surface, all of these infections may look the same. The patient’s symptoms may also be the same, as the body responds to the infection with fevers, sweats and inflammation. Blood tests can help diagnose a widespread infection but aren’t much help with an abscess or a lump, such as a swollen lymph node. Knowing what the actual organism is that’s causing the infection is critical. Medications that work on bacteria don’t work on viruses or fungi, and vice versa. Some bacteria are resistant to common antibiotics. A specific diagnosis is required to guide treatment and to determine whether anyone else might be at risk of infection.
Role and Benefits of a Fine Needle Aspiration
In the hands of a fine needle aspiration specialist, a biopsy can give a quick, accurate answer to whether a lump is an infection or a tumor. The alternative is an open surgical biopsy. The advantage of an FNA biopsy is that it is minimally invasive and the results can be obtained without delay. A cytopathologist is able to obtain the specimen, prepare the slides and evaluate the sample and see whether the lump is due to an infection, abscess or tumor almost immediately.
About Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy
An FNA is an office-based procedure that does not require a general anesthetic. In fact, some patients don’t even need a local anesthetic because the needle is so small (however, local anesthetic is usually given to make the patient more comfortable). After identifying the where the lump is by feel or with an ultrasound, the area is thoroughly cleansed. Local anesthetic is given and then the cytopathologist gently inserts the tiny needle into the lump or mass. The needle is hollow, so it cuts a very small slice (tube) of tissue or it can be used to aspirate (suck out) fluid. The specimen is placed on a glass slide, stained, and examined under the microscope.
Fine needle aspiration is less expensive, less complicated, less invasive and faster than a standard surgical biopsy – results are usually available within 24-48 hours. Your doctor can refer you to a fine needle aspiration specialist like Dr. Nadelman or you can contact us for an appointment.