Pleuroscopic cryoprobe biopsies of the pleura: a feasibility and safety study

Respirology. 2015 Feb;20(2):327-32. doi: 10.1111/resp.12441. Epub 2014 Dec 5.


Background and objective: Flexi-rigid pleuroscopy is a useful tool in the work-up of pleural effusions, but pleural biopsy using flexible forceps can be difficult in some patients. This study evaluated the feasibility, safety and diagnostic value of using a flexible cryoprobe to obtain parietal pleural biopsies during pleuroscopy.

Methods: This was a single-centre retrospective study. In patients undergoing diagnostic pleuroscopy, pleural biopsy using flexible forceps, followed by a flexible cryoprobe introduced through the pleuroscope, were performed. A pathologist independently reviewed all biopsies. Any complications, particularly bleeding, were recorded. All patients were followed up for ≥ 6 months (median 12 months (range 7-26)).

Results: Twenty-two patients (21 males; median age 72 years; 14 right-sided effusions) were included. All underwent flexible forceps biopsies (FFB) and cryoprobe biopsies (CB) of pleura. FFB and CB established a definitive diagnosis in 20/22 (90%). CB successfully obtained pleural tissue suitable for histopathological analysis in all patients. CB was larger than FFB (median, 25-75 IQR of 10, 7-15.8mm vs 4, 3-8mm), and had better preserved cellular architecture and tissue integrity. Crush artefacts were less common with CB (2/22) compared with FFB (21/22). No significant bleeding was reported.

Conclusions: CB during flexi-rigid pleuroscopy is feasible, safe and effective. Its routine use during flexi-rigid pleuroscopy requires further evaluation.

Keywords: biopsy; cryoprobe; malignant effusion; pleura; pleuroscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biopsy / adverse effects
  • Biopsy / instrumentation
  • Biopsy / methods*
  • Cryosurgery / adverse effects
  • Cryosurgery / instrumentation*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleura / pathology*
  • Pleural Effusion / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgical Instruments
  • Thoracoscopy / adverse effects
  • Thoracoscopy / instrumentation*