Rationale: Technological advances have improved the ability of bronchoscopists to access peripheral pulmonary lesions for tissue sampling. Radial probe endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) provides real-time feedback to guide biopsies of peripheral lesions, thereby potentially improving diagnostic yield over conventional bronchoscopy.
Objectives: We assessed the overall diagnostic yield of peripheral bronchoscopy using radial probe EBUS for peripheral pulmonary lesions, as well as factors that might influence the diagnostic yield, such as radial ultrasound view, lesion size, and ability to locate the peripheral lesion.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of peripheral bronchoscopy cases in which radial probe EBUS was utilized to diagnose peripheral pulmonary lesions at a tertiary care university hospital.
Measurements and main results: Our study cohort comprised 496 patients who underwent bronchoscopies between January 2008 and December 2012 for the diagnosis of peripheral pulmonary lesions. Radial probe EBUS was used alone for diagnostic purposes in 467 patients. A diagnosis was made on that basis in 321 (69%) of 467 patients. A diagnosis was obtained for 83 of 144 (58%) of nodules 1-2 cm in diameter, 99 of 137 (72%) of nodules 2.1-3 cm, 54 of 70 (77%) of nodules 3.1-4 cm, 41 of 47 (87%) of nodules 4.1-5 cm, and 35 of 40 (88%) of nodules larger than 5.1 cm. Of all 467 nodules, 446 (96%) were successfully identified using radial probe EBUS. When the radial probe position was within the target lesion, the diagnostic yield was 84% compared with 48% when the probe was positioned adjacent to the lesion.
Conclusions: Radial probe EBUS can be used to guide biopsy during peripheral bronchoscopy. This technique provides real-time ultrasound-based confirmation of target lesion localization prior to biopsy. Using radial probe EBUS, the vast majority of peripheral pulmonary nodules can be identified. Radial EBUS probe position relative to the target lesion significantly affects the diagnostic yield.