Role of video-assisted thoracic surgery for the diagnosis of indeterminate pulmonary nodule

Ann Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2006 Dec;12(6):388-92.


Purpose: A study was undertaken to evaluate the validity and efficacy of video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) for the diagnosis of indeterminate pulmonary nodules.

Materials and methods: Between April 2001 and November 2004, 57 adult patients (31 males, 26 females) with a clinical diagnosis of pulmonary nodules by preoperative chest computed tomographic (CT) scanning were included in this study.

Results: A definitive tissue diagnosis was obtained in all 57 patients. The mean age of the patients was 66+/-9.8 yrs. The mean size of the tumor was 1.76+/-0.67 cm. 38 patients (67%) had malignant disease. Twenty eight patients (49%) had primary lung cancer and 10 patients (18%) had metastatic lung cancer from an extrathoracic primary neoplasm. The rate of malignancy was 65% in the tumor sizes equal to or less than 2 cm. Among primary lung cancer, most patients had primary adenocarcinoma (24 cases)(86%). Pathologic staging showed T1N0 (stage IA) in 18 cases (69%), T2N0 (stage IB) in 4 cases (15%), T2N1 (stage IIB) in 1 case (4%), and T1N2 (stage IIIA) in 3 cases (12%). In 10 patients (18%) who required preoperative placement of a localization hookwire with a string near the nodule, the rate of malignancy was 70%. In 7 patients with positive positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), the rate of malignancy was 57% and proved to be falsely positive in 3 cases (43%). There was no operative mortality and no significant morbidity in all cases.

Conclusion: We proposed that VATS, which is safe and offers virtually 100% sensitivity and specificity, should be performed for most small (<3 cm in diameter) and all indeterminate pulmonary lesions on the basis of these results.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / pathology*
  • Solitary Pulmonary Nodule / surgery
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted*