Thoracoscopic lung biopsy is a safe procedure in diagnosing usual interstitial pneumonia

Chest. 2005 Oct;128(4):2375-80. doi: 10.1378/chest.128.4.2375.


Objectives: To evaluate the effect of lung biopsy on the survival of patients when histopathologic confirmation of usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) is needed.

Background: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a distinct clinical entity with histopathologic features of UIP. Surgical biopsy is needed when clinical and radiologic findings are not typical. The safety of lung biopsy is a matter of debate, and the results of short-term mortality (< 30 days) after biopsy are variable.

Methods: Seventy-six patients with UIP, including 34 patients who underwent video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) biopsy and 42 patients who underwent open-lung biopsy, were included in this retrospective study. All biopsies were reevaluated for UIP histopathology. Clinical data such as age at the time of biopsy, type of biopsy, preoperative pulmonary function, major postoperative complications, date and cause of death, and survival time after the biopsy were gathered. Median survival was used to compare the survival between different groups, and cumulative survival was estimated using Kaplan-Meyer method.

Results: Thoracoscopic biopsy was safe for diagnosing UIP, with no short-term mortality. In contrast, open-lung biopsy was followed by four deaths (5.3%) within 1 month after the procedure. All fatal cases were accompanied by a histopathologic pattern of diffuse alveolar damage. Age of the patient at the time of biopsy was a significant predicting factor for survival. Patients < 50 years old lived 181 months (range, 119 to 242 months), and patients > 50 years old lived 75 months (range, 55 to 95 months).

Conclusions: VATS biopsy is a safe procedure in diagnosing UIP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnosis*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / mortality
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Safety
  • Smoking
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thoracoscopy / methods*