Objective: to determine the contribution of percutaneous core cutting needle biopsy (PCNB) in the diagnosis of mediastinal tumors.
Design: retrospective review of 70 patients with mediastinal lesions who underwent CT-guided PCNB between 1988 and 1996.
Results: PCNB provided adequate material in 62/70 cases, giving a total sample rate of 88.6%. Of these 62 patients, 57 were diagnosed correctly by PCNB whereas 5/62 were misdiagnosed as nonspecific inflammation, providing an overall sensitivity of 91.9%. PCNB established a specific histologic diagnosis in 90.3% of the patients, mainly in cases of lymphoma, bronchogenic carcinoma, and thymoma. Pneumothorax was the most commonly encountered complication (11%). Hemoptysis (30-50 ml) occurred in only one (1.6%) of the patients.
Conclusion: CT guided PCNB is an easy and safe procedure which can provide a precise diagnosis in the majority of mediastinal tumors and can obviate the need for exploratory thoracic surgery in cases which are medically treatable or non-resectable.