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Fine Needle Aspiration

If your doctor recommends a diagnostic procedure called fine needle aspiration, or FNA, know you're in good hands when you receive testing at Virginia Hospital Center. This safe, simple procedure gives your care team fast, accurate information to determine if you have a health condition or need further tests or treatments.

What's Fine Needle Aspiration?

FNA uses a thin need to take a small sample of tissue to look for potential signs of a health problem. You may get an FNA if you have a lump or growth on your body. An expert at Virginia Hospital Center will examine the sample under a microscope.

What to Expect

You can do your normal activities and eat and drink normally before the test. You most likely will not need anesthesia or medication. 

Who Will Do the Test?

Feel confident you'll receive excellent care and support because an experienced, board-certified pathologist will perform the test. You'll talk with your provider before the procedure to ask and answer questions.

How Long Does it Take?

Your procedure will take about 30 minutes. 

Your Test Results

Your FNA results are usually available 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Your results will be sent to your doctor who ordered the test for you. Ask your doctor how and when to expect the results.

Risks of FNA

FNA is a safe, common test. Because there is no incision, there is no risk of scarring. But you may have a bruise or hematoma (bump) under the skin that feels sensitive. The area should return to normal within several days.

The procedure has a small risk of infection. But this is unlikely because your provider will clean your skin with alcohol before the procedure and use a sterile, disposable needle.

If you have FNA on a salivary gland, you may experience a small amount of blood in your saliva (spit) after the procedure.

Call your doctor if you experience symptoms that get worse or bother you.

Alternatives to FNA

Surgery is an alternative to FNA. But it carries more risks and is more expensive.

Access Mayo Clinic’s Expertise

As part of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Virginia Hospital Center brings the world-renowned expertise and knowledge of Mayo Clinic to our community. How can I access the expertise of Mayo Clinic? It’s simple – all you need is to be under the care of a physician on Virginia Hospital’s Center medical Staff. 

Find a VHC Doctor Access the Mayo Clinic Health Library

Related Locations

  • Main Hospital
    Main Hospital

    703-558-5000

    1701 N George Mason Drive
    Arlington, VA 22205