Background: Lung biopsies are frequently needed to diagnose diffuse interstitial lung diseases. A prospective randomized, controlled trial comparing limited thoracotomy (open lung biopsy) and thoracoscopy for lung biopsy was done.
Methods: Ambulatory patients with a clinical diagnosis of diffuse interstitial lung disease were randomized to thoracoscopy or limited thoracotomy. Data on postoperative pain, narcotic requirements, operating room time, adequacy of biopsy, duration of chest tube drainage, length of hospital stay, spirometry, and complications were collected.
Results: A total of 42 randomized patients underwent lung biopsy (thoracoscopy 20, thoracotomy 22). The two study groups were comparable with respect to age, gender, corticosteroid use, and preoperative spirometry. Visual analog scale pain scores were nearly identical in the two groups (p = 0.397). Total morphine dose was 50.8 +/- 27.3 mg in the thoracoscopy group and 52.5 +/- 25.6 mg in the thoracotomy group (p = 0.86). Spirometry (FEV1) values in the two groups were not significantly different on postoperative days 1, 2, 14, and 28 (p = 0.665). Duration of operation was similar in both groups (thoracoscopy 40 +/- 30 minutes, thoracotomy 37 +/- 15 minutes; p = 0.67). The thoracoscopy and thoracotomy groups had equivalent duration of chest tube drainage (thoracoscopy 38 +/- 28 hours, thoracotomy 31 +/- 26 hours; p = 0.47) and length of hospital stay (thoracoscopy 77 +/- 82 hours, thoracotomy 69 +/- 55 hours; p = 0.72). Definitive pathologic diagnoses were made in all patients.
Conclusions: There is no clinical or statistical difference in outcomes for thoracoscopic and thoracotomy approaches. Both thoracoscopy and thoracotomy are acceptable procedures for diagnostic lung biopsy in diffuse interstitial lung disease.