Thyroid aspiration cytology: A "cell pattern" approach to interpretation

Ritu Nayar*, A. R. Frost

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The key to the interpretation of thyroid fine needle aspiration is largely dependent on the recognition of various morphologic patterns of epithelial cells, usually follicular cells, and background elements, such as colloid. These morphologic patterns consist of 3 parts: 1) The arrangement of cells with respect to one another, 2) The cytologic features of individual cells, and 3) The presence of background elements. The cellular arrangements generally encountered in fine needle aspiration of the thyroid include the follicular patterns (macro-/normo-follicular and micro-follicular), the papillary pattern, the syncytial pattern, the dispersed cell pattern, and the cystic pattern. This article approaches some of the differential diagnostic challenges encountered while interpreting thyroid aspiration cytology by focusing first on the overall cellular arrangement to generate a differential diagnosis and then narrowing that differential by assessing cellular features of individual cells and the presence of background elements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-98
Number of pages18
JournalSeminars in Diagnostic Pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 26 2001


  • Aspiration
  • FNA
  • Patterns
  • Thyroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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