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Fine Needle Aspiration
of Superficial Masses

Assemble the aspirating equipment. If direct smears are to be made, label the slides prior to the aspiration. With the target of aspiration fixed with the non-dominant hand between the thumb and index finger and the syringe or syringe pistol in the dominant hand, the needle is placed against the skin. The needle should approach the skin at approximately a 30-degree angle if the lesion is very superficial. If the mass is deep, the needle should approach the skin at a perpendicular angle. A quick motion should be used in passing the needle through the skin. The needle is then advanced through the subcutaneous tissue into the mass. If the mass is small the needle should be aimed toward the center; if it is large the needle should be aimed toward the periphery (because the center of larger masses may be necrotic). A noticeable difference in the consistency of the tissue should be noted when the needle penetrates the mass. With the needle in the mass the needle tip should be moved in short motions initially to loosen cells within the mass. Negative pressure is then applied by pulling back on the plunger of the syringe. When blood or material appears in the hub of the needle the aspiration should be stopped. Prior to withdrawal of the needle negative pressure must be released to prevent suction of the material into the barrel of the syringe when the needle exits the skin.

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