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.