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Frequently Asked Questions

For Our Patients

How can I get a copy of my report?

You may request a copy of the pathology report directly from your referring physician/provider.

Who authorized to have my tissue sent to Vista Pathology?

Your referring Provider chooses a qualified laboratory providing pathology services. Pathologists are a vital part of the diagnosis and treatment team. If there are difficulties in diagnosis or questions that affect treatment, the physician/provider can speak directly to the pathologist on the case if he/she is local. Vista Pathology is contracted with most local employers’ insurance carriers therefore eliminating Out-Of-Network expenses.

What is a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)?

Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy and You: Your physician/provider has referred you to Vista Pathology for a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA). The FNA is a safe, simple, and accurate method of evaluating abnormal masses, nodules or lumps.

The Procedure: The FNA is simply the insertion of a thin (fine) needle into a lump and the removal of small amounts of tissue. This tissue is then spread onto slides and examined with a microscope, in order to determine the cause of the lump. Prior to the FNA, the skin will be thoroughly cleansed and the biopsy site may be locally anesthetized. Most patients experience only minor discomfort from the administration of the anesthesia and from the biopsy procedure itself.

Alternatives to the FNA: The alternative to the FNA biopsy would typically be an “open” biopsy in an operating room. The remaining alternative would be to forego a biopsy in favor of observation (“watch and wait”).

Complications: There are only rare complications associated with the FNA, and these typically are minor. Some patients experience a small amount of bleeding, which usually consists of just a few drops. Infrequently a patient will develop a hematoma, or small collection of blood, at the biopsy site, similar to a bruise. This is usually of no consequence and will gradually resolve over a matter of days. Also, because we are breaking the skin with the needle, there is a very small risk of infection due to the procedure. Rarely, this would require antibiotics. However, because we disinfect the skin overlying the biopsy site and use sterile needles, this is a very rare complication.

Your Diagnosis: The pathologist will examine the sample that he/she collects with the FNA, and at least a preliminary report of the findings will be available to your physician/provider within 24-48 hours. If special testing is required, a full report may take longer. Your physician/provider will discuss the results with you, usually by telephone or in a follow-up appointment. In most cases, the FNA will provide sufficient information to guide your physician/provider in any further evaluation or treatment that may be required. Occasionally, the FNA may not provide a complete answer, and further testing or an additional biopsy may be necessary.

The Biopsy Site: Some patients experience mild discomfort at the biopsy site following the FNA. This usually is short lived (a day or less) and can be relieved with over-the-counter acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), used as directed. Aspirin is not recommended in this setting. If any unusual discomfort, swelling, redness or discharge develops at the biopsy site, or if you develop a fever, please contact your primary care provider or the physician/provider who referred you for the biopsy.

Whom can I speak to if I have a question about my pathology report?

It is best to start with your own doctor. S/he will be able to explain the parts of the report that may have an effect on any treatment you may receive.

What if I want a second opinion?

First of all, you may have already gotten one. As a matter of policy, many new diagnoses of cancer are reviewed by at least two pathologists. In addition, many other cases that may not be cancer but that have important consequences for the patient are also reviewed by more than one pathologist. And finally, we routinely send difficult cases to expert pathologists at a variety of premiere medical centers around the country for consultation. If you find you would still like an additional opinion, simply tell your doctor, and s/he can communicate your request to us.

Will I be charged for a second opinion?

No additional charges will be made if more than one Vista Pathology doctor reviews your case. However, if your case is sent to an expert pathologist at another institution, a consultation fee will be billed to you or to your insurance carrier. It is easy to think of it in this way: if one surgeon recommended an operation but you wanted a second opinion from another surgeon, you would probably expect to be charged for that visit to the second surgeon. In the same way, a second pathologist (outside of our group) would bill for review of your case even if it had already been seen by us.