Spectrum of cytological findings in patients with neck lymphadenopathy - experience in a tertiary care hospital in Pakistan

Saira Fatima, Sidra Arshad, Zubair Ahmed, Sheema H. Hasan

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Lymph adenopathy is of great clinical significance as underlying diseases may range from a treatable infectious etiology to malignant neoplasms. In fact it is also essential to establish that the swelling in question is a lymph node. Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) plays a vital role in solving these issues, nowadays being recognized as a rapid diagnostic technique because of its simplicity, cost effectiveness, early availability of results, accuracy and minimal invasion. FNAC is particularly helpful in the work-up of cervical masses and nodules because biopsy of cervical adenopathy should be avoided unless all other diagnostic modalities have failed to establish a diagnosis. Objective: To determine the epidemiological and cytomorphological patterns of enlarged neck nodes. Study Design: This retrospective observational study was performed at the Section of Histopathology, Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH), Karachi, Pakistan. Materials and Methods: Three Hundred and seventy seven (377) neck swelling specimens obtained over a period of two and a half years registered from different regions of Pakistan were selected. Data were analyzed using SPSS 17. Results: Of a total of 377 cases of FNAC performed on neck nodes, the most frequent cause of lymphadenopathy was found to be tuberculosis with 199 cases (52.7%), followed by reactive lymphoid hyperplasia with 61 cases (16.1%). Metastatic carcinoma was found to be the third most common cause with 33 cases (8.7%). A diagnosis of lymphoproliferative disorder was rendered in 21 cases (5.5%). Acute and chronic non-specific inflammation was seen in 16 cases (4.2%). In 47 cases (12%) FNAC was inconclusive. Conclusion: In our study, the predominant cause of enlarged neck nodes was tuberculous lymphadenitis, followed by reactive lymphadenitis and malignant neoplasm, especially metastatic carcinoma and lymphoma. FNAC was helpful in establishing the diagnosis in approximately 98% of the cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1873-1875
Number of pages3
JournalAsian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Cytology
  • FNAC
  • Malignant neoplasms
  • Neck lymphadenopathy
  • Tuberculosis


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