Study objectives: Conventional transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) is a valuable procedure but remains underutilized. Recently, imaging guidance such as CT fluoroscopy has created considerable interest. As CT fluoroscopy is cumbersome and exposes patients and staff to radiation, we have examined the feasibility of endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) in providing imaging support for TBNA.
Design: Prospective consecutive patient enrollment.
Setting: University-related tertiary referral centers for pulmonary diseases.
Results: From January 1999 to January 2000, 242 consecutive patients were entered into this prospective study (82 women and 160 men; mean age, 60.0 years). Indications for TBNA were diagnosis of enlarged lymph nodes and cancer staging. The average lymph node size was 1.7 cm (SD, 0.47; range, 0.8 to 4.3 cm). Target lymph nodes were visualized with EBUS, followed by TBNA in standard fashion. All targets could be visualized with EBUS. In 207 patients, the lymph nodes were successfully sampled (86%). This was independent of lymph node size and location. A firm diagnosis or cancer stage could be obtained in 172 patients (72%). There were no complications associated with the use of EBUS.
Conclusion: EBUS is simply performed and if used for TBNA guidance affords an excellent yield independent of lymph node location. Randomized trials comparing standard TBNA and imaging-guided TBNA by CT fluoroscopy and EBUS are indicated.