Ocular Fine-needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB)


Fine-needle aspiration biopsies (FNABs) may be taken from the orbit or from within the eye. Unlike FNABs taken from other anatomic sites, the ophthalmologist usually does not have the luxury of making different passes into a lesion at different angles and depths.

Therefore, ophthalmic FNAB specimens may not be representative of the lesion being sampled.


Preparation by Ophthalmologist

We recommend that a cytology technician be available alongside the ophthalmologist to take the biopsy in the syringe from the surgeon and begin preparation immediately.

Preparation by Ophthalmic Histotechnologist/Cytotechnologist

We process most FNAB specimens by cytospin centrifugation. Unstained slides can be studied by immunohistochemistry.


Issues for the Pathologist


There are many publications attesting to the accuracy of ophthalmic FNAB. The pathologist must always remember that the sample being studied may not be representative of the entire lesion.


FNAB from iris lesion. Malignant melanoma. The pigment granules in the background come from the iris pigment epithelium.


More Questions?

If you have more questions about ophthalmic fine-needle aspiration biopsies, please contact one of us:

Ophthalmic Pathologists

Robert Folberg, MD, FCAP, Director

Deepak P. Edward, MD

Consultation Coordinator

Marnie Pomeroy






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