Does cytotechnician training influence the accuracy of EUS-guided fine-needle aspiration of pancreatic masses?

Maria Chiara Petrone, Paolo Giorgio Arcidiacono, Silvia Carrara, Gianni Mezzi, Claudio Doglioni, Pier Alberto Testoni
Digestive and Liver Disease 2012, 44 (4): 311-4

BACKGROUND/AIM: The presence of on-site cytopathologists improves the diagnostic yield of endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) of pancreatic masses; however, on-site cytopathologists are not available to all endoscopic units. We hypothesized that experienced cytotechnicians can accurately assess whether an on-site pancreatic mass fine needle aspiration specimen is adequate. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of formal cytotechnician training on the diagnostic accuracy of EUS-FNA of pancreatic masses.

METHODS: Single-centre, prospective study. The cytotechnician made an on-site assessment of specimen adequacy with immediate evaluation of smears over a 12-month period (pre-training period) then over another 12-month period (post-training period), with a year's intermediate training when the cytopathologist and the cytotechnician worked together in the room. The gold standard used to establish the final diagnosis was based on a non-equivocal fine needle aspiration biopsy reviewed by the same expert cytopathologist. The main outcome measurements were the cytotechnician diagnostic accuracy before and after the training period.

RESULTS: A total of 107 patients were enrolled in the pre-training period. Cytotechnician in-room adequacy was 68.2% (73/107). The diagnostic accuracy was 74.8%. The adequacy for the blind-review pathologist was 93.4% (100/107), significantly higher (p=0.008) than the cytotechnician's results. During the post-training period, 95 EUS-FNA were performed and reviewed. Cytotechnician in-room adequacy was 87.4% (83/95). The diagnostic accuracy was 90.5%. The adequacy for the blinded pathologist was 95.8% (91/95), not significantly different from the cytotechnician (p=0.23).

CONCLUSIONS: An adequate training period with an expert pathologist significantly improves the cytotechnician skill in terms of judging adequacy and diagnostic accuracy.

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