Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine.
Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Fine Needle Aspiration

Fine  Needle Aspiration Biopsy

Patient Information

For scheduling please call
or email us at

Imaging & Diagnostic Services
Monday - Friday,
7:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.
7:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Breast Center
Monday - Friday,
7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Why do I need a Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy?

Your doctor has requested a fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy for a lymph node mass or nodule that has been found.

How do I prepare for my Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy?

To schedule you for this procedure, we are asking that you or your physician’s office submit images of your lymph node mass or nodule for our physicians to review. If your previous ultrasound was performed at a Houston Methodist facility, this is not necessary. Once these orders and images are received, our scheduler will contact you to schedule your biopsy and have a pre-procedure phone consultation. The scheduler will give you specific instructions about what to do before the procedure.

Please note, if you have had your imaging done at another facility, there is a chance that the images may not be of high enough quality making it necessary to obtain additional scans. It will be at the discretion or our Interventional Radiology physician whether or not to proceed with the FNA.

How is a Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy performed?

FNA is a technique in which a lymph node mass or nodule can be biopsied with a very small (fine) needle.

When you arrive for the FNA, a physician and technologist will talk to you about the procedure, including its risks and what to do after the FNA.

The actual procedure takes only a few minutes. Most of the time spent is speaking with you about the procedure, examining you and preparing for the procedure. The needle that is used is smaller than those used to draw blood. However, since the needle is so small, multiple aspirations may be required to obtain enough specimen for a diagnosis.

The procedure will be performed by board-certified radiologists with special expertise in minimally invasive procedures. After your nodule has been biopsied, a specially trained pathologist will look at a portion of the biopsy while you wait to see if enough specimen has been obtained. Additional specimens may be needed following this preliminary adequacy evaluation by pathology. You will be able to drive, return to work and resume your normal activities after the biopsy. The time spent performing the procedure is generally 30-45 minutes (if you are not pre-registered, please allow at least one hour for registration and procedure).

What are some advantages of the procedure?

  • Rapid availability of results
  • Extremely low complication rate
  • Reduced cost compared to surgery
  • An alternative to surgical removal in selected cases
  • Help in planning clinical management

What are some risks and complications of the procedure?

One of the advantages of fine needle aspiration is that it poses no significant risk to you. Occasionally, some minor bleeding may occur under the skin which can cause some mild pain, bruising and swelling. If this happens, a hot or cold compress over the area will usually help. In the event of unusual discomfort and swelling, please call Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital or your doctor. If you need further pain control, use OTC Extra Strength Tylenol. If possible avoid Advil, Motrin or Aspirin for two days.