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Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy has been rarely used in oral and oropharyngeal lesions. The goal of this study was to assess the value and accuracy of FNA biopsy in the diagnosis of oral and oropharyngeal lesions particularly in regards to discriminating benign from malignant tumors.


Sixteen cases of FNA biopsies obtained of various intraoral and oropharyngeal masses or lesions performed at our institution during the eight-year period from 1998 to 2006 were retrospectively reviewed. The aspiration cytologic diagnoses were correlated with the histologic examination of the corresponding resected lesions.


Sixteen cases of intraoral lesions evaluated by FNA biopsies during the period of 1998–2006 were reviewed. The sites of involvement were: lip 1, maxillary sinus 3, pharynx/oropharynx 5, floor of mouth 4, buccal mucosa 2 and peritonsillar area 1. Patients' age ranged from 30 to 87 with an average of 54 years. Male to female ratio was 1:3. Cytologically, 7 cases were diagnosed as suspicious/malignant, and 9 cases as benign (including 6 benign neoplasm, 1 atypical, and 2 reactive or "descriptive"). Fifteen cases had corresponding surgical resection for histologic examination, of these, 9 cases were interpreted as malignant, and 6 as benign. There were no false positive diagnoses of malignancy on FNA. Two cases were interpreted as benign or atypical cytologically, but were found to be malignant on histologic examination.


FNA biopsy of intraoral and oropharyngeal masses is a valuable procedure for the initial evaluation of various lesions. It provides helpful information about these lesions and avoids hasty or unnecessary surgical biopsy. It is a rapid and relatively noninvasive procedure. Furthermore, aspiration biopsy is an important tool in the diagnosis and management of these lesions, both neoplastic and non-neoplastic, and can be sometimes complemented by ancillary studies for more accurate interpretation. However, its sensitivity in the diagnosis of malignancy is lower than that of histologic samples. This is probably due to the superficial nature and small size of these lesions, the limited space for maneuvering the needle and difficulty in immobilizing the lesion to obtain adequate samples, rather than to interpretation or inherent limitations of the technique itself.



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