Objective: To assess the feasibility and yield of endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) guided fine needle aspiration (FNA) in diagnosing centrally located lung tumours after a previously non-diagnostic bronchoscopy.
Background and hypothesis: Bronchoscopy fails to establish a diagnosis in up to 30% of patients with suspected lung cancer. Intrapulmonary tumours located near or adjacent to the esophagus might be visualized and biopsied under real-time ultrasound guidance by EUS-FNA.
Design: Patients with suspected lung cancer and an intrapulmonary tumour located near or adjacent to the esophagus who had undergone a non-diagnostic bronchoscopy, underwent EUS-FNA for diagnostic purposes. Surgical-pathological verification occurred when EUS-FNA was non-diagnostic and in those patients diagnosed with non-small-cell lung cancer by EUS-FNA who were surgical candidates.
Results: EUS-FNA diagnosed lung cancer in 31 of 32 patients (97%). No complications occurred. The diagnosis obtained by EUS-FNA was confirmed in all 11 patients who were operated. In one case, in which EUS-FNA was non-diagnostic, a lymphoma was diagnosed after pneumonectomy.
Conclusions and significance: EUS-FNA qualifies as the next diagnostic step in patients with suspected lung cancer and a non-diagnostic bronchoscopy if the intrapulmonary mass is located adjacent or near the esophagus. In these cases, EUS-FNA may replace computed tomography of the chest (CT)-guided biopsies and reduce the number of exploratory thoracotomies.