Smears are important for adequate cytologic diagnosis of kidney lesions

Athena L. Chen, Peter A. Brown, Brenda J. Sweeney, Adam S. Feldman, Ronald S. Arellano, Rosemary H. Tambouret

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction Traditionally at our institution, smears with or without liquid-based cytology (LBC) and core biopsies (CBs) have been obtained by radiologists performing image-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsies (FNABs) of deep organs. Since 2015, however, there has been a shift to providing cytology with samples for LBC only when obtaining CBs. The impression among our institution's cytologists is that LBC alone is less often adequate for diagnosis compared with smears and LBC together. We examined a series of kidney FNABs pre- and post-“LBC only” to evaluate this impression. Materials and methods With institutional review board approval, we compared all kidney FNABs from 2012 to those from 2015. We recorded the type(s) of cytology preparation(s), the number of cytology slides, the cytology diagnosis, the concurrent CB diagnosis, and whether there was a subsequent excision and the excision diagnosis. We examined cytology and CB slides as needed. Results In 2012, 105 patients underwent 111 kidney biopsies, 109 with smears made. In 2015, 58 patients underwent 62 kidney biopsies, 7 with smears made. In 2012, there were 13 (12%) nondiagnostic (ND) cytology cases and 19 (17%) cases where the cytology and CB diagnoses were discrepant. By comparison, in 2015, there were 20 (32%) ND cytology cases and 21 (33%) discrepant cases. Conclusions There were more cytology slides per case and fewer ND diagnoses in 2012 compared with 2015 (12% versus 32%, respectively, P = 0.001). Concordance was also better in 2012 (83% versus 67%, P = 0.015). We believe that our metrics would improve if we returned to the procedures followed in 2012.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-169
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Society of Cytopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy
  • Kidney
  • Liquid-based cytology
  • Oncocytoma ALC
  • Quality improvement
  • Renal cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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