Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Department of Pathology


Fine Needle Aspirations of Papillary Carcinoma

The Cytopathology specialty within the Department of Pathology is headed by Ritu Nayar, MD, MIAC, and the faculty is actively involved and well recognized in Cytopathology at the local, national and international levels. All faculty members are all board certified in Cytopathology and practice predominantly in this area.


The residency rotation and cytopathology fellowship program offers the opportunity to learn the diagnostic and prognostic applications of cytopathology in a variety of specimen types including gynecologic and non-gynecologic samples, as well as fine-needle aspirates of deep-seated organs and superficial masses. An organized daily teaching curriculum is in place and an extensive glass slide teaching collection is available for residents and fellows. The volume, breadth, and scope of interesting cases, exposure to a variety of specimen types and preparations, experience in performing ultrasound guided FNA’s, multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and the teaching expertise and vast experience of the faculty are strengths of this program.


Faculty members are actively involved in translational research and have done several collaborative studies, including those with direct relationship to improved patient care with physicians and trainees in Surgery, Otolaryngology, Radiology, and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Patient Care

The Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center of Northwestern University is an NCI-designated comprehensive facility for the treatment and research of neoplastic disorders. Cytopathology's annual volume related to clinical services provided through Feinberg-affiliated care sites is approximately 40,000 (25,000 gynecologic; 15,000 non-gynecologic including 4,500 fine needle aspirations/many with corresponding core biopsy specimens that are also diagnosed by Cytopathology). Immunocytochemistry, flow cytometry, molecular diagnostics, liquid-based and automated (Cytyc ThinPrep imager) cytology, HPV HR, testing and genotyping are regularly utilized. Within Northwestern Medicine, there is a Fine Needle Asspiration (FNA) clinic where specialty staff and trainees participate in performance of superficial FNA’s for clinic outpatients and hospital inpatients. In addition, there is a weekly ENT clinic in which fellows see patients and personally perform ultrasound guided head and neck FNA’s. The trainees are closely involved with on-site adequacy evaluation and triage of biopsy specimens acquired percutaneously in interventional Radiology, and by endoscopic ultrasound in Bronchoscopy (EBUS), and Gastroenterology (EUS).

Cytopathology Faculty

Ritu Naya, MD Medical Director Cytology

Ritu Nayar, MD MIAC
Medical Director, Cytopathology Fellowship Program Director

Xiaoqi Lin, MD PhD
Director of FNA Clinic

Ajit Paintal, MD
Associate Program Director, Cytopathology Fellowship

Pictured On This Page: Fine needle aspiration biopsy of a thyroid nodule showing papillary carcinoma, the most common thyroid malignancy