Background: Endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) is considered to have high value in the staging of mediastinal lymph nodes in lung cancer. The current study was conducted to investigate the diagnostic value of EBUS-TBNA in intrapulmonary lesions located near the central airway.
Methods: From September 2009 to March 2013, 66 patients with pulmonary masses located close to the central airways suspected to be lung cancer were accessed by EBUS-TBNA. Conventional bronchoscopic biopsy before EBUS-TBNA was nondiagnostic in all cases. If EBUS-TBNA did not result in a formal pathological diagnosis of malignancy, patients were subsequently referred for a surgical procedure.
Results: Among the 66 cases, 59 were confirmed as pulmonary malignancies by EBUS-TBNA, of which 48 cases were non-small cell lung cancer, nine were small cell lung cancer, and two were metastatic lung tumors. No evidence of malignancy was found by biopsy and histopathological examination in the other seven cases. Thoracoscopy or thoracotomy was subsequently undergone for them. Postoperative pathological examinations confirmed three cases of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung, one case of lymphoma, two cases of sclerosing hemangioma, and one case of pulmonary tuberculoma. The definitive diagnosis rate of EBUS-TBNA for intrapulmonary lesions near the central airway was 89.4%. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of EBUS-TBNA in distinguishing benign from malignant intrapulmonary lesions were 93.7%, 100.0%, and 93.9%, respectively. The positive and negative predictive values were 100.0% and 42.9%, respectively. The EBUS-TBNA procedures were well-tolerated by all patients. No associated complications were observed.
Conclusions: For intrapulmonary lesions near the central airway highly suspected of cancer, EBUS-TBNA has satisfactory diagnostic value. However, the negative predictive value of this technique is low, so negative results obtained by EBUS-TBNA should be confirmed by other methods.