Background: Preoperative identification of lymph node metastases associated with esophageal carcinoma may influence treatment. EUS is the most accurate method for locoregional staging of these tumors. The impact of EUS-guided fine-needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) on lymph node staging in esophageal carcinoma is unclear.
Methods: From May 1996 to May 1999, 74 patients with esophageal carcinoma underwent preoperative EUS. After October 1998 EUS-guided FNA was performed on nonperitumoral lymph nodes greater than 5 mm in width. The results of EUS with and without FNA were retrospectively reviewed and compared. Final diagnosis was based on surgical results or EUS-guided FNA malignant cytology. Ten of the 74 patients had to be excluded for lack of lymph node stage confirmation. Final diagnosis was obtained in the remaining 64 patients (33 from the EUS only group and 31 from the EUS-FNA group).
Results: The results of EUS versus EUS-FNA for lymph node staging were sensitivity 63% versus 93% (p = 0.01), specificity 81% versus 100% (not significant), and accuracy 70% versus 93% (p = 0.02), respectively. Complications comprised 1 patient who developed self-limited bleeding after dilation that did not preclude completion of the EUS (1%, 95% CI [0%, 7%]).
Conclusions: EUS-FNA is more sensitive and accurate than EUS alone for preoperative staging of locoregional and celiac lymph nodes associated with esophageal carcinoma. EUS-FNA of nonperitumoral lymph nodes in patients with esophageal carcinoma is safe and should be routinely performed when treatment decisions will be affected by nodal stage.