Supraclavicular Lymphadenopathy: The Spectrum of Pathology and Evaluation by Fine-Needle

McHenry, Christopher R.; Cooney, Matthew M.
August 1999
American Surgeon;Aug1999, Vol. 65 Issue 8, p742
Academic Journal
Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) has emerged as an important modality for the evaluation of supraclavicular lymphadenopathy. To determine the spectrum of pathology and the efficacy of FNAB, all patients with supraclavicular lymphadenopathy evaluated from 1990 to 1997 were analyzed for: 1) a prior history of malignancy; and 2) the side of the abnormal lymph node, FNAB result, and final pathologic diagnosis. FNAB was used to evaluate left- and right-sided supraclavicular lymphadenopathy in 33 and 19 patients, respectively. FNAB was malignant in 37 patients (71%), benign in 4 patients (8%), nondiagnostic in 6 patients (11%), and suspicious in 5 patients (10%). A prior history of malignancy was present in 30 patients and, of these, 23 (77%) had a malignant FNAB compared with 14 of 22 patients (64%) with no previous history of cancer (P > 0.05). Of the 37 patients with a malignant FNAB, 22 (59%) were from a left supraclavicular node. Abdominal and pelvic tumors uniformly metastasized to a left supraclavicular lymph node, whereas malignancies of the head and neck, thorax, breast, and skin and lymphoma showed no significant difference in laterality. There were no false positive or false negative FNAB results. In conclusion, the yield of FNAB is similar in patients with or without a history of malignancy, justifying the routine use of FNAB as the initial diagnostic test for evaluation of patients with supraclavicular lymphadenopathy. However, FNAB is not definitive in 21 per cent of patients with supraclavicular lymphadenopathy, emphasizing the importance of selective excisional biopsy.


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