BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of lymphoma requires surgical specimens to perform morphological evaluation, immunohistochemical and molecular analyses. Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration may represent an appropriate first approach to obtain cytological samples in impalpable lesions and/or in patients unsuitable for surgical procedures. Although cytology has intrinsic limitations, the cell block method may increase the possibility of achieving an accurate diagnosis.
METHODS: We retrospectively selected a total of 47 ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration and drainage samples taken from patients with effusion and deep-seated lesions which are clinically suspicious in terms of malignancy.
RESULTS: In 27 cases, both cell block and conventional cytology were performed: 21/27 cell blocks were adequate for the diagnosis of lymphoma and suitable for immunocytochemistry and molecular analyses vs. 12/20 samples to which only conventional cytology was applied. Moreover, in five patients we were able to make a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma with the cell block (CB) technique.
CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to conventional cytology, the cell block method may allow immunocytochemistry and molecular studies providing useful information for the diagnosis and subtypization of lymphoma in patients unsuitable for surgical procedure or with deep-seated lesions or extra-nodal diseases; additionally, it is a daily, simple and helpful approach. Moreover, we describe the usefulness of cell blocks in the diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma.