Fine needle non-aspiration cytology for the diagnosis of cervical lymph node tuberculosis: a single center experience

Abstract Introduction: The fine-needle cytology is being used as a first line of investigation in the diagnosis of head and neck swellings, as it is simple, cost effective and less invasive as compared to biopsy. Objective: The aims of this study were to evaluate the results of the fine-needle non-aspiration cytology of cervical lymphadenopathy and to study the factors influencing the rate of non-diagnosis results. Methods: This retrospective study was conducted on selected patients with cervical lymphadenopathy that had undergone a fine-needle non-aspiration cytology followed by a histological biopsy. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value of fine-needle non-aspiration cytology for diagnosing tuberculosis were estimated. The risk factors of non-diagnosis results were evaluated. Results: The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value rates of fine-needle non-aspiration cytology for tuberculosis were 83.3%, 83.3%, 78.9% and 86.9% respectively. In total, 47 out of the 131 samples (35.8%) were considered non-diagnosis. Of the non-diagnosis samples, 84.2% (38 out of 47) were benign mostly due to tuberculosis (30 cases). Among the studied factors, only tuberculosis (confirmed by histopathological examination) was significantly associated with non-diagnosis cytology (p = 0.02, Odds-Ratio = 2.35). Conclusion: Tuberculosis is currently the commonest cause of cervical lymphadenopathy in North Africa. Fine-needle non-aspiration cytology is safe and accurate in the diagnosis of cervical tuberculous lymph node that is associated with the risk of non-diagnosis cytology.