Surgical resection of highly suspicious pulmonary nodules without a tissue diagnosis

Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2011 Aug;41(8):1017-22. doi: 10.1093/jjco/hyr073. Epub 2011 Jun 21.


Objective: The safety and efficacy of surgical resection of lung nodule without tissue diagnosis is controversial. We evaluated direct surgical resection of highly suspicious pulmonary nodules and the clinical and radiological predictors of malignancy.

Methods: Retrospective analyses were performed on 113 patients who underwent surgical resection without prior tissue diagnosis for highly suspicious pulmonary nodules. Clinical and radiological characteristics were compared between histologically proven benign and malignant nodules after resection. Total costs, length of hospitalization and waiting time to surgery were compared with those of patients who had tissue diagnosis prior to surgery.

Results: Among 280 patients with pulmonary nodules suspicious for lung cancer, 113 (40.4%) underwent operation without prior tissue diagnosis. Lung nodules were diagnosed as malignant in 96 (85%) of the 113 patients. Except for forced expiratory volume in 1 s, clinical characteristics were not significantly different according to the pathologic results. Forty-five (90%) of 50 patients with ground-glass opacity nodules had a malignancy. Mixed ground-glass opacity, bubble lucency, irregular margin and larger size correlated with malignancy in ground-glass opacity nodules (P<0.05). Fifty-one (81%) of 67 patients with solid nodules had a malignancy. Spiculation, pre-contrast attenuation and contrast enhancement significantly correlated with malignancy in solid nodules (P<0.05). Surgical resection without tissue diagnosis significantly decreased total costs, hospital stay and waiting time (P<0.05).

Conclusions: Direct surgical resection of highly suspicious pulmonary nodules can be a valid procedure. However, careful patient selection and further investigations are required to justify direct surgical resection.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Neoplasms / economics
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection
  • Pneumonectomy*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed