The diagnostic value and safety of transbronchial needle aspiration biopsy in children with mediastinal lymphadenopathy

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2010 Dec;45(12):1173-9. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21303. Epub 2010 Aug 17.


Introduction: Anterior mediastinal masses in children can have different causes which includes, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) or malignant lymphadenopathy. Transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) has been described as a safe and effective diagnostic procedure in adult patients with lung cancer.

Aim: To describe the use of TBNA as a diagnostic test in children with large subcarinal lymphadenopathy and to determine the safety of the procedure in children.

Patients and methods: Prospective descriptive study of children with subcarinal mediastinal lymph nodes who underwent TBNA. The majority of the children were referred due to treatment failure. Children were enrolled if the diagnosis remained unclear after computer tomography of the chest.

Results: Thirty patients were enrolled in this study; TBNA was done in 28 patients. A definitive diagnosis was made by TBNA in 54% (n = 15) of patients; MTB lymphadenopathy (n = 13), metastatic nephroblastoma (n = 1), and fibrosing mediastinitis (n = 1). In seven (25%) cases the TBNA was the sole source of the specimens from which the definitive diagnosis was made. No serious complications were encountered during or after the procedure.

Conclusion: TBNA is a safe procedure in children with mediastinal lymphadenopathy of unknown cause resulting in a definitive diagnosis in 57% of cases. TBNA adds additional value to flexible bronchoscopy in the diagnosis of mediastinal lymphadenopathy in children.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biopsy, Needle*
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fibrosis / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / secondary
  • Mediastinitis / diagnosis
  • Mediastinum / pathology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis
  • Wilms Tumor / diagnosis
  • Wilms Tumor / secondary