Published: 2016-12-16

Evaluation of fine needle aspiration cytology as the initial diagnostic test in cases of cervical lymphadenopathy

Gunjan P. Upadhyay, Rameshchandra M. Thakker


Background: Cervical lymph node enlargement is common amongst the various causes of neck swelling. Proper diagnosis and early treatment is necessary for cervical lymph node disease and it is also necessary to rule out potentially curable causes as against malignancy in which the treatment is generally palliative. Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is now a day the initial investigation in most of the cases of cervical lymph node enlargement. Aims and Objectives of the study were to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of FNAC in the diagnosis of cervical lymph node disease with an emphasis on discordant cases between the cytology and the histopathology.

Methods: Patients admitted with cervical lymph node enlargement in a tertiary hospital of western India (attached with a medical college) from October 2014 to September 2016 were prospectively studied. Detailed history, clinical examination and necessary investigations of all patients were done especially fine needle aspiration cytology and histopathology examination and inference was obtained after the diagnosis was confirmed.

Results: The cytological diagnoses were found to be malignant in 48 cases (30.6%) and benign in 109 cases (69.4%). The overall diagnostic sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of FNAC of cervical lymph nodes were 90.9%, 67.2%, 82.6%, and 81.3%, respectively. The overall diagnostic accuracy was 82.2%, while the overall discordance rate was 17.8%.

Conclusions: FNAC is the initial investigation of choice in the diagnostic approach to most of the cases of cervical lymphadenopathy and it has good diagnostic sensitivity and specificity.


Cervical lymph node, FNAC, Malignancy, Tuberculosis

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