Ultrasound core needle biopsy of salivary glands is an excellent diagnostic tool in terms of accuracy (both sensitivity and specificity), technical performance, and safety profile.
This paper provided an update of the previous meta-analysis of the same question, which found sensitivity of 92% and specificity of 100%. The authors identified 134 articles and 10 of them passed the selection criteria for evaluation. This latest meta-analysis confirmed a sensitivity of 94% and specificity of 98%. Adverse events were minimal (0.5%), and they were mostly haematoma, with a case of temporary facial nerve palsy from the local anaesthesia.
Fine-needle aspiration cytology in the salivary glands, unlike the excellent results yielded in thyroid cytology, has relatively low sensitivity (64-90%) when it comes to diagnosing low-grade carcinomas. It is therefore easy to appreciate that core needle biopsy is superior in pre-diagnosis and therefore reduces undue delay in operating on true cancers. Its superior specificity (specificity of FNA is between 86-100%) also means core needle biopsy may lead to fewer unnecessary operations.