Article Publish Status: FREE
Abstract Title:

Useless and dangerous--fine needle aspiration of hepatic colorectal metastases.

Abstract Source:

BMJ. 2004 Feb 28 ;328(7438):507-8. PMID: 14988193

Abstract Author(s):

M S Metcalfe, F H G Bridgewater, E J Mullin, G J Maddern

Article Affiliation:

M S Metcalfe


Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) is an established tool for diagnosing liver tumours. It has recognised complications, however. Use of the procedure in abdominal tumours is fatal in 0.006 to 0.031% of cases.1,2 Most deaths occur with liver tumours and are due to haemorrhage. Another complication is that metastases can seed along biopsy needle tracts, although this has been reported to be rare, with an incidence of 0.003% to 0.07%, mostly from pancreatic tumours.1,2 More recently, much higher rates (0.4% to 5.1%) of needle tract metastases have been reported when FNAC is used in liver lesions, usually for primary liver tumours.3-7 Only 13 cases of needle tract colorectal metastases caused by FNAC in liver lesions are described in journals listed in Medline.7-13 Several authors have commented that the procedure should be avoided because of the risk of this complication. A further similar case is reported here, extending the contraindication of FNAC in hepatic tumours to include lesions for which no primary malignancy has been found. Therefore in Western populations, in which primary liver malignancy is rare, the diagnosis of apparently malignant liver lesions should centre on searching for the primary tumour, rather than on FNAC of the lesion.

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