Transthoracic needle biopsy of the lung: results of early discharge in 506 outpatients

Radiology. 2001 Apr;219(1):247-51. doi: 10.1148/radiology.219.1.r01ap11247.


Purpose: To determine the safety of early discharge (30 minutes) after transthoracic needle biopsy (TTNB) of the lung.

Materials and methods: In a prospective study of 506 consecutive outpatients who underwent TTNB of the lung, 440 patients underwent fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) only, and 66 underwent FNAB and core biopsy. Patients were discharged after 30-minute postbiopsy chest radiography if there was no pneumothorax. Patients were discharged after 60-minute chest radiography if they had a stable asymptomatic pneumothorax. These patients were followed up 1 day and/or 1 week after biopsy to identify delayed complications. Patients with a symptomatic or enlarging pneumothorax were treated with an 8-F pigtail catheter attached to a Heimlich valve, discharged, and followed up 24 hours later for chest tube removal.

Results: The pneumothorax rate was 22.9% (116 patients). Eighty-one patients (16.0%) had an asymptomatic pneumothorax, and 33 (6.5%) had a pigtail catheter in place. Seven (1.4%) patients developed a symptomatic pneumothorax after discharge; two of them (0.4%) underwent large-bore chest tube insertion. The other five (1.0%) underwent delayed pigtail catheter insertion. There were no deaths or other major complications.

Conclusion: Early discharge after outpatient TTNB of the lung is associated with little morbidity and no mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Biopsy, Needle*
  • Early Ambulation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Diseases / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumothorax / diagnostic imaging*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Treatment Outcome