Ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration (USFNA)
Procedure assistance in pathologist directed USFNA

Author: Joe D. Jakowski, M.D., Susan Meanor, R.D.M.S., R.T. (see Authors page)

Revised: 6 February 2018, last major update March 2013

Copyright: (c) 2002-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Procedure assistance in ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration

Cite this page: Jakowski, J. D.; Meanor, S. Procedure assistance in pathologist directed USFNA. website. Accessed October 19th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Procedure assistance is determined by:
    • Preference and experience of pathologist performing the procedure
    • Complexity of USFNA procedure and setting (hospital inpatient versus outpatient)
    • Availability of personnel to assist (e.g. private practice versus academic setting)
    • FNA volume and resources available for hiring or training the assistant
  • Possible assistants include ultrasonographer, nurse, cytotechnologist, pathology resident or fellow
  • Highly trained and credentialed professional who performs ultrasound (US) procedures and obtains US images
  • Specially credentialed in US in one or more organ systems including abdomen, breast, ob/gyn, small parts (e.g. thyroid), vascular
  • Excellent resource for pathologist, as they have in depth understanding of US scanning, US physics, US equipment, image guided procedures, normal sonographic anatomy, US images obtained
  • Cost may be prohibitive (salary may be > $60,000 USD depending on experience)

  • Ultrasonographer's duties may include:
    • Obtain previous imaging studies and compare to current study
    • Take patient history, explain procedure, provide patient support and care
    • Position patient for procedure
    • Obtain US image and provide location, US description, size, vascularity, skin to target depth, etc.
    • Set up procedure and supplies (US machine, patient forms, gauze, needles, band aids, drapes, etc.)
    • Modify US procedure according to sonographic findings
    • Provide oral or written summary of US findings
    • Maintain transducer placement during USFNA procedure
    • Help confirm and capture needle placement during procedure
    • Apply pressure to site between biopsies
Cytotechnologist, nurse, pathology residents and fellows
  • Capable of providing adequate assistance during USFNA procedure and assisting with patient care
  • Pathology residents and fellows assisting with USFNA may:
    • Fulfill pathology educational and patient care requirements / milestones
    • Attract more medical school candidates to field of pathology or more resident / fellow candidates to your pathology program
  • Cytotechnologists assisting with USFNA may:
    • Provide additional educational and job opportunities
    • Attract more candidates to field of cytotechnology