Comparative ultrastructure of needle aspiration biopsy and surgical resection specimens of lung tumors

Darrell D. Davidson, Dewey J. Conces, Michael P. Goheen, Steven A. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Ultrastructural examination affords conclusive evidence for classification of lung tumors. Tissue properly fixed for electron microscopy is not available in many cases, however. Ultrastructural diagnosis of resected specimens obviously follows, rather than directs, the surgical treatment. Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of lung masses is recommended as a means to obtain lung tumor tissue for electron microscopy. Nevertheless, no comparison has been made between ultrastructural information gained from aspiration specimens and resected specimens. Electron microscopy was performed on transthoracic FNA specimens of 10 lung tumors for which surgical resection was subsequently performed. Glutaraldehyde-fixed specimens from FNA and surgical resection were prepared for electron microscopy according to routine procedures. Fixation of the FNA specimens was equivalent or superior to that of the resected specimens in 9 of the cases. Three of the FNA specimens contained necrotic as well as viable tissue. Features essential for diagnosis such as desmosomes, junctions, neurosecretory granules, intermediate filaments, glycogen, lipid, mucin, and microvilli were identifiable in both FNA and resected specimens. FNA specimens therefore yield a representative sample of the ultra-structural features of lung tumors when adequate cellular material is obtained. Use of a coaxial needle sampling technique with immediate microscopic assessment reduces the likelihood of retrieving only blood or necrotic tissue in the electron microscopy specimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-519
Number of pages15
JournalUltrastructural Pathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992


  • Biopsy
  • Fixation
  • Lung neoplasm
  • Sampling error
  • Ultrastructure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Structural Biology
  • Instrumentation

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