Background: Some patients with diffuse lung disease require a lung biopsy for diagnosis. This study is aimed to compare the clinical results and the efficacy of video-assisted thoracoscopic lung biopsy with the open lung biopsy method for the diagnosis of interstitial lung disease. From January 1996 to December 1998, 61 patients were referred for diagnostic lung biopsy. Thirty two patients were randomly allocated to have a thoracoscopic lung biopsy and twenty nine had an open lung biopsy. Subsequently, various factors were analyzed and compared in both groups.
Results: There was no difference between the groups in age and pulmonary function test. Median operative time was 45 minutes for the thoracoscopic biopsies and 60 minutes for the open biopsies (P = 0.009). Median amount of analgesia (Demerol) in the first 24 hours postoperatively was 75 mg. for thoracoscopic biopsies and 150 mg. for open biopsies (P < 0.001). Median duration of insertion of a chest tube in days and 24 hours of pleural drainage was not statistically significant between the two groups. Duration of hospital stay was significantly less for the thoracoscopic biopsy (3 days) compared with an open biopsy (5 days) (P < 0.001). The diagnostic yield of each method was comparable (thoracoscopic biopsy 31/32; open biopsy 27/29) (P = 0.3). Complications occurred in 6/29 of patients undergoing open biopsies and 3/32 patients undergoing thoracoscopic lung biopsies (p = 0.28). There were 2 deaths among patients who had an open lung biopsy.
Conclusion: Thoracoscopic lung biopsy has some clinical advantages over open biopsy. These findings suggest that thoracoscopic lung biopsy is an acceptable alternative to open lung biopsy for the diagnosis of diffuse interstitial lung diseases.