Context: Up to 40% of thoracotomies performed for non-small cell lung cancer are unnecessary, predominantly due to inaccurate preoperative detection of lymph node metastases and mediastinal tumor invasion (T4). Mediastinoscopy and the novel, minimally invasive technique of transesophageal ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) target different mediastinal lymph node stations. In addition, EUS can identify tumor invasion in neighboring organs if tumors are located adjacent to the esophagus.
Objective: To investigate the additional value of EUS-FNA to mediastinoscopy in the preoperative staging of patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
Design, setting, and patients: Prospective, nonrandomized multicenter trial performed in 1 referral and 5 general hospitals in the Netherlands. During a 3-year period (2000-2003), 107 consecutive patients with potential resectable non-small cell lung cancer underwent preoperative staging by both EUS-FNA and mediastinoscopy. Patients underwent thoracotomy with tumor resection if mediastinoscopy was negative. Surgical-pathological staging was compared with preoperative findings and the added benefit of the combined strategy was assessed.
Intervention: The EUS-FNA examination was performed as an additional staging test to mediastinoscopy in all patients.
Main outcome measure: Detection of mediastinal tumor invasion (T4) and lymph node metastases (N2/N3) comparing the combined staging by both EUS-FNA and mediastinoscopy with staging by mediastinoscopy alone.
Results: The combination of EUS-FNA and mediastinoscopy identified more patients with tumor invasion or lymph node metastases (36%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 27%-46%) compared with either mediastinoscopy alone (20%; 95% CI, 13%-29%) or EUS-FNA (28%; 95% CI, 19%-38%) alone. This indicated that 16% of thoracotomies could have been avoided by using EUS-FNA in addition to mediastinoscopy. However, 2% of the EUS-FNA findings were false-positive.
Conclusion: These preliminary findings suggest that EUS-FNA, when added to mediastinoscopy, improves the preoperative staging of lung cancer due to the complementary reach of EUS-FNA in detecting mediastinal lymph node metastases and the ability to assess mediastinal tumor invasion.