Fine needle aspiration (FNA)

Fine needle aspiration (FNA) allows your doctor to analyse cells from samples taken from a breast lump.

Diagnosis using FNA

Fine needle aspiration procedure

A fine needle aspiration is a quick and simple procedure. It is used if your consultant wants to take a sample of cells for analysis.

It uses a thin, hollow needle to remove samples of tissue or fluid from a breast lump, usually without having to make a cut in the skin.

What to expect from an FNA procedure

If a lump is small, ultrasound may be used in conjunction with the procedure to help ensure cells are taken from the correct area of the breast.

The skin is cleaned where the needle is to be inserted and in some cases, you may also be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area.

The lump is held steady while the needle is inserted and it may be moved in and out of the area to ensure a large enough sample is obtained. Often there is a syringe attached to the needle that can help draw some of the cells into the needle. The process takes just a few seconds to a few minutes and then the needle will then gently be removed and pressure is applied to help stop any bleeding.

Once a sample has been removed, it is sent to the laboratory for testing.Most fine needle aspirations are carried out without any complications. You might feel a little sore for a couple of days after the test or you may develop a bruise at the site where the needle was inserted. Usually, there is very little preparation necessary but we will advise you of any special requirements ahead of your appointment.

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