What is FNAC?

Written and reviewed by
Dr.Kaushal Maheshwari 88% (35ratings)
MD - Pathology
Pathologist, NOIDA  •  18years experience
What is FNAC?

FNAC or FNA stands for fine needle aspiration cytology. This is a simple OPD procedure generally done by pathologists . In this a patient would have a visible swelling or lump. The pathologist will insert a needle in the swelling ,move the needle back and forth, and aspirate ( suck) cells present within the lump. Slides are prepared from these cells aspirated. They then study the cells on a microscope and give a report.

Time required for procedure :  few minutes only

Done by : pathologists

Local anesthesia given for pain relief during the procedure :   Usually not given .

Fasting required : not necessary

Any complications of the procedure :  usually mild pain for a few minutes, rarely and depending on site of

lump,  may experience transient shock, hematoma etc

Report availability : usually by next day .Please check with the doctor performing the procedure.

Why it is done : To look for Tuberculosis, cancer cells, parasitic organisms etc

Special comments :

1. If the swelling is not visible, say it is within the body and detected on scans, then the procedure is done by a Radiologist who localizes the swelling and the pathologist inserts the needle under guidance.

2. Always discuss the report with the pathologist who has done the procedure. Please do not make your own impressions from the report.  They may be vastly different from what the pathologist is trying to convey

3. Usually FNAC is diagnostic of parasitic infections .In cases of suspected cancer, report usually says that atypical ( not good looking cells ) present. This needs to be further worked up by biopsy for definite categorization of swelling.

4. Tiny swellings ( usually less than 0.5 cm in diameter ), indiscreet swellings, or swellings that usually cannot be fixed between two fingers generally , should not undergo FNAC procedure -  as chances of aspirating cells are pretty low in such cases. So the report would be misleading in most such cases.

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