An approach to small lymph node biopsies: pearls and pitfalls of reporting in the real world
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Recent advances in interventional radiology have resulted in the utilization of small lymph node biopsies, including fine-needle aspiration (FNA) and core needle biopsy (CNB) as an initial diagnostic tool in hematopathology. A major challenge to the utilization of FNA and CNB is the limited-to-scant tissue often available. We propose delegation of the task of handling biopsy specimens to the laboratory staff by the biopsy operators, in order to optimize the utilization of the specimen. Furthermore, in order to effectively diagnose hematolymphoid neoplasms a variety of ancillary tests including immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry, molecular analysis, florescence in situ hybridization (FISH) are necessary. We propose morphological evaluation coupled with careful utilization of ancillary studies along with clinical correlation to approach the correct diagnosis. Our morphological assessment considers the types of proliferating cell population: mainly small cells, sheets of large cells, or scattered large cells among small cells. This is followed by employment of the corresponding immunopanel to assess the differential diagnosis in each of the three categories. We also elaborate on the importance for pathologists to become proficient in understanding the limitations of small tissue biopsies as well as the differences in interpretation, and wording their reports to help clinicians and direct them to further investigate and/or to re-biopsy when necessary.
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