Root cause analysis of indeterminate diagnoses in serous fluids cytopathology.

TitleRoot cause analysis of indeterminate diagnoses in serous fluids cytopathology.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsGokozan HN, Harbhajanka A, Lyden S, Michael CW
JournalDiagn Cytopathol
Date Published2021 May

INTRODUCTION: The International System for Reporting Serous Fluid Cytopathology proposed five diagnostic categories: Nondiagnostic (ND), Negative for Malignancy (NFM), Atypia of Undetermined Significance (AUS), Suspicious for Malignancy (SFM) and Malignant (MAL) (Primary or Metastatic). The indeterminate (AUS/SFM) categories are challenging for management. The goal of this study is to reveal the root causes contributing to indeterminate diagnoses (ID).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We searched our archives between 1 January 2017 and 30 June 2019, and performed a root cause analysis (RCA) using the "5 whys" method to determine the contributing factors of ID.

RESULTS: Nine hundred eleven specimens were evaluated and diagnosed: ND (9, 1%), NFM (667, 73.2%), AUS (51, 5.6%), SFM (27, 3%) and MAL (157, 17.2%). More than one factor contributed to 38/78 ID. Low volume (<50 cc), and low cellularity were identified in 31 and 51 cases, respectively. Three cases were simply deferred to concurrent biopsy. Eleven cases were called atypical, favor reactive mesothelium despite confirmatory IHC. Atypical lymphoid population was reported in seven cases. Cellblocks (CB) were low in cellularity despite volume >1000 mL in 13 cases. Two mesotheliomas were underdiagnosed as suspicious.

CONCLUSIONS: Low cellularity and low volume were the most common contributing factors, highlighting the importance of adequate sample collection. Adequate volume specimens with low cellularity may benefit from a close inspection and a second CB. Some IDs can be switched to NFM or MAL with careful consideration of clinical, radiologic findings and ancillary testing, and concurrent surgical pathology correlation when available.

Alternate JournalDiagn Cytopathol
PubMed ID33125186
Related Faculty: 
Hamza Gokozan, M.D.

Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 1300 York Avenue New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 746-6464
Surgical Pathology: (212) 746-2700