Fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) of nerves in leprosy.
Leprosy is primarily a disease of the peripheral nerves and a technique that is simpler than nerve biopsy is required to evaluate nerve involvement, especially in pure neuritic (PN) leprosy. This study was designed to evaluate the role of FNAC of the nerve in the diagnosis and classification of leprosy. A prospective study was carried out on 25 patients with clinically active leprosy and at least one thickened peripheral sensory nerve. Nerve aspirates were evaluated by May-Grunwald-Giemsa and Fite's staining. Lepromin test, slit skin smears (SSS), skin biopsies (except PN cases) and nerve biopsies were performed and compared with FNAC. FNAC of nerve from 23 cases (92%) yielded diagnostic aspirates. Acid fast bacilli were observed in six cases by FNAC. FNAC and nerve pathology were equally comparable with the other parameters evaluated. Based on the results, cytological criteria were developed for interpreting nerve aspirates and the cases were classified as paucibacillary (18), BB (2), BL (2), LL (1) and non-diagnostic (2). All PN cases showed diagnostic paucibacillary type cytology. FNAC of the nerve yields diagnostic aspirates in leprosy comparable with nerve pathology and the proposed cytological criteria may be useful in classification of nerve aspirates.