Fine-needle aspiration (FNA)
Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB, FNA or NAB) is a diagnostic procedure used to investigate superficial (just under the skin) lumps or masses. In this technique, a thin, hollow needle is inserted into the mass for sampling of cells that, after being stained, will be examined under a microscope. There could be cytology exam of aspirate (cell specimen evaluation, FNAC) or histological (biopsy - tissue specimen evaluation, FNAB). Fine-needle aspiration biopsies are very safe, minor surgical procedures. Often, a major surgical (excisional or open) biopsy can be avoided by performing a needle aspiration biopsy instead. In 1981, the first fine-needle aspiration biopsy in the United States was done at Maimonides Medical Center, eliminating the need for surgery and hospitalization. Today, this procedure is widely used in the diagnosis of cancer and inflammatory conditions.
A needle aspiration biopsy is safer and less traumatic than an open surgical biopsy, and significant complications are usually rare, depending on the body site. Common complications include bruising and soreness. There is a risk, because the biopsy is very small (only a few cells), that the problematic cells will be missed, resulting in a false negative result. There is also a risk that the cells taken will not enable a definitive diagnosis.
Fine needle aspiration (FNA) is a percutaneous ("through the skin") procedure that uses a fine needle and a syringe to sample fluid from a breast cyst or remove clusters of cells from a solid mass.
Most simple cysts are benign and do not require any treatment or further diagnostic workup. Some complex cysts may require further diagnostic measures such as fine needle aspiration or biopsy to exclude breast cancer however the overwhelming majority is of benign nature. Cysts will usually resolve on their own after the fluid is drained. Otherwise, if the lump is not a cyst, the fluid aspirated may contain blood or there may not be fluid at all. Whereas in the first case, the fluid is sent to the laboratory for further examination, the latter circumstance is a sign that the breast lump is solid. This type of tumor needs to be biopsied in order to determine whether it is malignant or benign.
See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-needle_aspiration
Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)