Fine-needle Aspiration Procedure

A thin needle is guided into an abnormality to remove a small sample of cells and/or fluid. This procedure is commonly used to address thyroid nodules, neck masses, fluid collections, and lymph nodes throughout the body. Guidance methods include CT and ultrasound.

At the time of the procedure, your provider will allow you the chance to ask any questions you may have. You will be asked to sign a consent for treatment. As with any surgical procedure, complications of bleeding or infections may occur, though rarely.

What to Expect

How is a fine-needle aspiration done?

How is a fine-needle aspiration done?
Your doctor will clean the area with chlorhexidine. You will receive an injection of local anesthetic to numb the area where the needle will be inserted. Your doctor will hold the area steady with one hand and insert a thin needle (attached to a syringe) into the numbed skin. He or she may move the needle in and out of the area to make sure to get enough tissue or fluid for the biopsy. Then he or she pulls on the plunger of the syringe to remove the tissue or fluid. The process takes a few seconds to a few minutes.

How will it feel?

You will receive a local anesthetic and will feel a brief sting when it is injected. You also may feel some pressure when the biopsy needle is inserted. The site of the fine-needle aspiration may be sore for a couple of days, and you may have a bruise. You will be provided with after-care instructions. Depending on the specific procedure, you should be able to return to work the same day or the next day.

What happens afterward?

Your doctor will apply pressure to the aspiration site to prevent bleeding and put an adhesive bandage on it. You will be given a detailed instruction sheet for post-care. Contact your doctor if you have bleeding, redness, swelling, or a fever of more than 100.5F over the next couple of days.

How to Prepare

Follow the instructions given to you by the nurse or patient care coordinator. Please notify us at the time of scheduling if you take prescription blood thinners or over-the-counter NSAIDs.