VATS lung biopsy in suspected, diffuse interstitial lung disease provides diagnosis, and alters management strategies

Heart Lung Circ. 2005 Jun;14(2):90-2. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2005.01.002.


Objectives: In patients with suspected diffuse interstitial lung disease, open lung biopsy is associated with high mortality (16%). This risk is only acceptable if diagnosis is made and management enhanced. We reviewed the role of VATS techniques in this group to determine the morbidity, mortality and outcomes in terms of diagnosis and enhanced management.

Methods: Over the period of 5 years, 78 patients with suspected diagnosis of diffuse interstitial lung disease on clinical and radiological grounds were referred to a single surgical team. The patients' case notes and histology reports were reviewed retrospectively. Correlation was made with histopathological diagnosis.

Results: All 78 patients had sufficient provision of material for histological analysis. Eight patients had a histological diagnosis not consistent with diffuse interstitial lung disease; in all eight patients, this significantly altered the subsequent management. Of the 70 patients with diffuse lung disease, 26 patients (37.1%) had a histological diagnosis of usual interstitial pneumonia. Thirteen patients (18.6%) had a histological diagnosis of unclassifiable diffuse lung disease despite an adequate biopsy. The remaining 31 patients (44.3%) had other positive histological diagnosis made. A difference between pre-operative clinico-radiological and final histological diagnosis sufficient to change prognosis and definitive management was made in 19 patients (27.1%). The mean and median post-operative stay was 2.8 days and 2 days, respectively. The in-hospital mortality was one patient (1.5%) due to adult respiratory distress syndrome.

Conclusions: VATS lung biopsy can be performed in this group of patient with low mortality of 1.5%. It provides sufficient material for histological diagnosis in 100% of patients and alters the management and prognosis in a significant number of patients. We propose that the role of VATS and clinico-radiological techniques should be compared in a prospective controlled clinical trial.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnosis*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / pathology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted* / adverse effects