Fine-needle aspiration biopsy for the diagnosis of bone and soft tissue lesions: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Meagan Chambers, Keegan O'Hern, Darcy A. Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: The workup of musculoskeletal (MSK) lesions utilizes a range of diagnostic tests including incisional biopsy, core needle biopsy, and fine-needle aspiration (FNA). FNA is the most cost-effective and least invasive biopsy method, but variation in its reported diagnostic performance has constrained its use for MSK lesions. Herein, we undertake a meta-analysis to clarify the diagnostic performance of FNA for bone and soft tissue lesions. Materials and methods: A systematic search was run in MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL. Included studies were aggregated for pooled estimates of adequacy, accuracy, and sensitivity/specificity for all MSK lesions as well as bone and soft tissue independently. Analysis of heterogeneity and risk of bias were assessed across studies. Covariate subgroup analyses were attempted to investigate potential influences on diagnostic accuracy. Results: Twenty-five articles met inclusion criteria, representing 4604 FNAs. Adequacy was 92.3% (range: 59.2%-98.0%, S = 9.4%), and sensitivity/specificity for the nature (malignant or benign) of the lesion was 95.6% (95% CI: 94.5%-96.5%) and 96.9% (95% CI: 95.9%-97.7%). FNA was 75.8% accurate (range: 42.5%-99.3%, S = 17.3%) for definitive diagnosis. FNA provides higher accuracy for benign versus malignant nature in bone lesions but achieves a definitive diagnosis more frequently in soft tissue lesions. Conclusions: The results of this meta-analysis support the expanded use of FNA in the diagnostic workup of bone and soft tissue lesions, particularly in light of a sensitivity and specificity comparable to incisional and core needle biopsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-441
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Society of Cytopathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Bone neoplasms
  • Connective and soft tissue neoplasms
  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Meta-analysis
  • Musculoskeletal diseases
  • Sensitivity and specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Fine-needle aspiration biopsy for the diagnosis of bone and soft tissue lesions: a systematic review and meta-analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this