Background: We investigated factors related to the diagnostic sensitivity of CT-guided transbronchial biopsy (TBB) using an ultrathin bronchoscope and virtual bronchoscopy (VB) navigation for small peripheral pulmonary lesions.
Method: We have performed this procedure on 83 patients with 85 small peripheral pulmonary lesions (< 20 mm in diameter). We analyzed the relationship between the diagnostic sensitivity and the location of the lesions, the bronchial generation to which an ultrathin bronchoscope was inserted, and the lesion-bronchial and lesion-pulmonary arterial relationships on high-resolution CT.
Results: Fifty-six of the 85 lesions (66%) were diagnosed following CT-guided TBB using an ultrathin bronchoscope with VB navigation. The lesions located in the left superior segment of the lower lobe (S6) had a significantly low diagnostic sensitivity compared to other locations (p < 0.01). When an ultrathin bronchoscope could be inserted to the fifth or greater bronchial generation, the yield was above the average diagnostic sensitivity of 66%. Moreover, not only the patients with the presence of a bronchus leading directly to a lesion (CT-bronchus sign), but also the patients with the presence of a pulmonary artery leading to a lesion (CT-artery sign), had high diagnostic sensitivity (p < 0.01). Multivariate analysis revealed that the location of lesion was an independent predictor of diagnostic sensitivity (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: The location of the lesion, the bronchial generation to which an ultrathin bronchoscope was inserted, and the presence of a bronchus as well as a pulmonary artery leading to the lesion were valuable for predicting successful CT-guided TBB using an ultrathin bronchoscope with VB navigation.