Is there a Role for Frozen Section Evaluation of Parotid Masses After Preoperative Cytology or Biopsy Diagnosis?

R. G. Pastorello, E. F. Rodriguez, B. A. McCormick, V. F. Calsavara, L. C. Chen, M. A. Zarka, A. C. Schmitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy reliably diagnoses parotid gland lesions preoperatively, whereas intraoperative frozen section (FS) has the additional benefit of assessing surgical margins and refining diagnoses; however, the role of FS in the setting of prior FNA diagnosis is not well established. Our aim was to determine whether FS should still be performed after a prior FNA/ CNB diagnosis. Parotid gland resections from January 2009 to January 2020 were identified; however, only patients who had both FNA and FS constituted our study population. For the purpose of statistical analysis, FNA diagnoses were classified into non-diagnostic (ND), non-neoplastic (NN), benign neoplasm (BN), indeterminate, and malignant. FS diagnoses were classified into benign, indeterminate, or malignant. Resections were dichotomized into benign and malignant and regarded as the gold standard to subsequently calculate diagnostic accuracy of FNA and FS. A total of 167 parotid gland resections were identified, but only 76 patients (45.5%) had both FNA and FS. In 35 cases deemed as benign preoperatively, three (8.6%) were reclassified as malignant on FS. Out of 18 lesions reported as malignant on FNA, four (22.2%) were interpreted as benign on FS, with three of these benign lesions confirmed on permanent slides. In addition, in patients with both FNA and FS, compared to FNA, FS was able to provide a definitive diagnosis in all five ND cases and in 61.1% (11/18) of indeterminate tumors. Intraoperative assessment provided a relative increase of 33.3% in specificity and 38.5% in positive predictive value when compared to preoperative FNA. The addition of FS to FNA was helpful to further refine the diagnoses of parotid gland lesions, which may provide better guidance for surgical intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)859-865
Number of pages7
JournalHead and Neck Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Cytology
  • Fine needle aspiration
  • Frozen section
  • Parotid cancer
  • Salivary gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Oncology


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