February 20, 1998

New clinic created to speed biopsies

New clinic created to speed biopsies

A new clinic recently established at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is helping patients to more quickly receive the results of superficial biopsies.

The fine needle aspiration biopsy clinic, located in the Village at Vanderbilt, was formed by the Department of Pathology to serve as a centralized location geared toward providing outpatient biopsy services.

"This clinic will allow us to serve the community much more thoroughly and bring patients to a single area for biopsies," said Dr. Claudia K. Jones, assistant professor of Pathology and medical director of the fine needle aspiration biopsy clinic.

Currently, the service is mobile, traveling to Vanderbilt clinics that have patients who need biopsies. The biopsies are then examined in the Pathology department, where a determination is made about the sample.

Jones, Dr. Joyce E. Johnson, associate professor of Pathology, and Dr. Alice Coogan, assistant professor of Pathology, are responsible for running and maintaining the fine needle aspiration biopsy clinic.

Establishing the new clinic allows Jones and colleagues to see patients whose physicians are not on campus and who do not have the facilities at their practices to biopsy palpable masses. The service will continue to conduct clinic visits.

"This technique is fast, minimally invasive, has a very low complication rate, and is very inexpensive," said Jones.

With a small laboratory in the clinic, the Pathologists can offer preliminary results in 30 minutes and more complete results within 24 hours.

"When patients come in with a lump that they are worried about, they generally don't want to schedule an appointment for two weeks later," said Jones. "In our clinic we can see patients very quickly and they can get the results of their biopses by the end of the day."

Fine needle aspiration biopsy is a method of sampling a lump using a needle thinner than those used to draw blood.

The needle is usually inserted three times from different angles and moved back and forth inside the lump to ensure that a thorough sample is received.

Once material is harvested, it is examined microscopically to make a diagnosis. Commonly sampled sites include thyroid, salivary glands, breast, lymph nodes and sof tissues.

An additional benefit of the fine needle aspiration biopsy clinic is that it allows the same person who took the sample to examine the specimen.

"This allows for some additional accuracy because the person who saw the lump can incorporate their impressions of the way it looked and felt into the diagnosis," said Jones.

"We hope that this will ease worry of those who have to have lumps biopsied by allowing their physicians to know what is going on quickly."

For additional information about fine needle aspiration biopsy, call 322-2721.