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AIM: To determine prior to surgery whether a fine needle biopsy is able to define a hepatocellular carcinoma grading,
MATERIAL OF STUDY: Thirty patients, who all underwent liver resection for HCC. In every case a fine needle biopsy of
the neoplasm was taken prior to surgery, and after the operation a complete microscopic assessment of tumor grade according
to Edmondson and Steiner classification was taken.
RESULTS: We found no correlation between fine needle biopsy grading and post surgical one. We also found no correlation
between fine needle grading and other relevant elements, alpha-fetoprotein levels and number of neoplastic nodules.
DISCUSSION: Considering the small number of patients in the study, fine needle biopsy seems to be unfit to determine
HCC grading before surgery, this is probably due to the different levels of neoplastic differentiation present into every
single nodule and to the characteristics of Edmondson and Steiner classification. In Literature there is at least one study,
similar to ours, showing problems in the correct attribution of grading level using this classification. Other authors consider
the possibility to modify the scale from a 4-levels one to a 3-levels one.
CONCLUSIONS: In spite of these discouraging results, and with a strict follow up monitoring any tumor seeding, we think
fine needle biopsy is still fundamental for controversial cases, and for new studies on hepatocellular carcinoma, like those
over vascular invasion or the molecular profile of the neoplasm.