Fine-needle aspiration cytology for parotid lesions, can we avoid surgery?

Y. Shkedy, U. Alkan, A. Mizrachi, T. Shochat, O. Dimitstein, S. Morgenstern, T. Shpitzer, G. Bachar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Salivary gland neoplasms are rare tumours, with most arising in the parotid gland. Fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is a common method for preoperative evaluation of parotid masses, although its usefulness is controversial. This study was designed to evaluate the accuracy of FNAC in a large cohort of patients, with emphasis on diagnosis of benign tumours and especially Warthin tumour which can be managed conservatively. Study Design: Retrospective case series with chart review. Setting: Tertiary medical centre. Subjects and Methods: From 1991 to 2014, all patients 18 or older with both preoperative FNAC and postoperative pathology report were included. Patients with a history of head and neck malignancy or chronic sialoadenitis and patients who had undergone prior oncological treatment were excluded. Results: 470 patients were available for analysis. Overall accuracy was 82.6%. Positive predictive value (PPV) varied between 88.6% and 94.3% for pleomorphic adenoma and 77.1%-100% for Warthin tumour, with values varying depending on different characteristics of patients (eg age, smoking status). For pathologically proven malignant tumours, the FNAC diagnosis was benign or non-diagnostic in 26% of the cases. Conclusion: Fine-needle aspiration cytology has limited utility in confirming a benign diagnosis of a parotid mass for most patients, although for some subpopulations, the PPV may be high enough to defer surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)632-637
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Otolaryngology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • fine-needle aspiration
  • parotid
  • pleomorphic adenoma
  • warthin tumour


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