Radiology (Xray)

Ultrasound Guided Fine Needle Aspiration or biopsy (FNA)

X-ray Appointments RVI: (0191) 282 4330; Freeman Hospital: (0191) 223 1012

What is an ultrasound scan? Show [+]Hide [-]

An ultrasound scan is an examination in which sound waves (not heard by the human ear) are used to create a picture of organs within the body.  The picture can provide accurate information about the size, structure and movement of many parts of the body.

What preparation will I need?Show [+]Hide [-]

Usually none.  Printed instructions will be given to you with your appointment information if any preparation is required.  If you are taking antiplatelet (e.g. aspirin, clopidogrel) or anticoagulant medication (e.g. warfarin tablets, heparin injections), please let the ultrasound staff know at the start of the scan.

What does the examination involve?Show [+]Hide [-]

On arrival you may be asked to undress and put on a hospital gown.  Once in the examination room, you will lie on a couch next to the ultrasound machine. 

A radiologist (specialist imaging doctor) or sonographer (specialist ultrasound radiographer) will perform the scan by placing a small amount of clear gel onto the skin and gently running a small probe (like a microphone) over the skin surface.  You may be asked to change your position slightly, and hold your breath from time to time.

The doctor who arranged for you to have this examination has asked the radiologist to consider performing a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) as part of the test. This involves taking a small sample of tissue from the area of interest. The radiologist or sonographer will explain whether this is necessary once he/she has scanned the area.  The FNA involves using the ultrasound pictures to guide a needle to take a small sample for laboratory analysis.  Taking the sample involves cleaning the skin with antiseptic, injecting local anaesthetic if necessary then guiding the needle into the correct position.

The radiologist will answer any questions you have about the FNA at the time.  If you have concerns before the test, please telephone the radiology department on the number at the top of this web page.

How long will it take? Show [+]Hide [-]

The ultrasound and FNA will generally take approximately 30 minutes, however it does vary and you may be in the Radiology Department for around 1 hour or more, and you may need to wait both before and after the examination.

I am diabetic, does this change anything?Show [+]Hide [-]


What are the benefits of having an ultrasound guided FNA?Show [+]Hide [-]

Obtaining an FNA sample enables a small specimen of tissue to be assessed in the laboratory.  This additional information can be combined with the clinical and ultrasound features to make an accurate diagnosis.  Using the ultrasound machine to guide the FNA needle increases the quality of the FNA sample obtained.

Are there any side effects?Show [+]Hide [-]

No side effects are known from diagnostic ultrasound. The procedure is very safe and the common complication is minor bruising; the radiologist will explain this in more detail at the time of the examination.

When will I get my results?Show [+]Hide [-]

The results will be sent to the consultant or GP who asked for it to be done within two weeks of your examination.

Can I drive home?Show [+]Hide [-]

Having an FNA is safe and complications are extremely rare, but staff will check how you are feeling well following the procedure.  There is no reason why you cannot drive home afterwards.

I need an ambulance/ transport. Do you arrange it?Show [+]Hide [-]

If you need an ambulance/ transport, you should ask your GP Surgery to arrange it, but you will need to give them three working days notice.  Please note that hospital transport is provided on medical need only.

What if I cannot attend for my appointment?Show [+]Hide [-]

If your appointment time is not convenient please can you contact the hospital department that you are attending  so that a more appropriate time can be arranged.  This will enable us to reallocate valuable time to someone else.

Freeman X-ray Appointments     0191 223 1012 (8.30am-5.00pm)

RVI X-ray Appointments               0191 282 4330 (8.30am-5.00pm)

Information from your diagnostic test will contribute to the Diagnostic Imaging Dataset. 

The Diagnostic Imaging Dataset (DID) is a database that holds information on the imaging tests and scans carried out on NHS patients. This will allow the Health and Social Care Information Centre to see how different tests are used across the country.


Nothing will ever be reported that identifies you.  All information is stored securely. It is only made available to appropriate staff, and is kept strictly confidential. However, if you do not want your information to be stored in the DID, please tell the people who are treating you. They will make sure your information is not copied into the DID.


You may, at a later date, still decide to opt out.  Please contact the Health and Social Care Information Centre directly, their contact details are:

Telephone: 0845 300 6016 



What if I have any comments, suggestions or complaints?Show [+]Hide [-]

Should you have any suggestions or concerns, please make these known to the person conducting your examination or by letter addressed to the hospital that you are attending your examination:

The Departmental Manager            

X-ray Department Level 3                           

Royal Victoria Infirmary                               

Queen Victoria Road                                   

Newcastle upon Tyne                                  

NE1 4LP                                                       

Tel: (0191) 2821099



The Departmental Manager

Main X-ray Department

Freeman Hospital

High Heaton

Newcastle upon Tyne 

 NE7 7DN

Tel: (0191) 2821099

Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm

All Newcastle Hospitals: Switchboard Tel: (0191) 233 6161 (24 hours)

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can offer on-the-spot advice and information about the NHS.  You can contact them on freephone 0800 032 02 02 or email

Information produced by Brian Allan, Regional Ultrasound Manager.

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