Fine needle aspiration biopsy of the spleen in the evaluation of neoplastic disorders

J F Silverman, K R Geisinger, S S Raab, M W Stanley
Acta Cytologica 1993, 37 (2): 158-62
Splenic fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy has been used mainly in Europe to diagnose nonneoplastic systemic diseases. A few reports have described FNA biopsy of the spleen for the diagnosis of lymphoma. There is a definite paucity of North American reports concerning FNA biopsy for metastatic disease involving the spleen; that probably is a reflection of both the relative infrequency of splenic metastases and concern about potential hemorrhagic complications of the procedure. We report a series of 11 FNA biopsies of the spleen in patients with known carcinoma or hematologic malignancies. The FNA biopsies were performed on eight males and three females with a median age of 45 years and a range of 6-77 years. Six patients had a known hematopoietic malignancy at the time of aspiration (five non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, one acute myelogenous leukemia [AML]). The one patient with Hodgkin's disease had an FNA biopsy of the spleen as part of the initial workup; cytologic impression was atypical lymphoid cells with granulomas suggestive of Hodgkin's disease, which was confirmed by splenectomy. Four patients with carcinoma (two testicular, one lung, one ovarian) had FNA biopsies for the evaluation of splenic nodules; FNA biopsy confirmed metastatic carcinoma in three of these patients. In the entire series splenic FNA biopsy documented malignancy in 6 of the 11 patients. The one patient with AML had Aspergillus identified in the splenic aspirate, while granulomatous inflammation with yeast consistent with Candida was seen in a patient with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. One aspirate demonstrated abscesses without recognizable organisms, and another showed extensive necrosis in a patient with testicular choriocarcinoma. Only one hemorrhagic complication was noted following splenic biopsy. Our experience demonstrates that FNA biopsy of the spleen is a useful and safe procedure in evaluating infectious and neoplastic splenic masses in patients with hematopoietic malignancies and carcinoma.

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