Background: Pneumothorax (PTX) following flexible bronchoscopy (FB) and transbronchial lung biopsy (TBLB) occurs in 1% to 6% of cases. Chest radiography (CXR) is therefore routinely requested to detect PTX following TBLB. The objective of this study was to prospectively evaluate the accuracy of ultrasound (US) in the detection of post-TBLB PTX.
Methods: Consecutive patients undergoing elective FB at a tertiary care hospital were included in the study. A real-time US was used to rule out PTX immediately after FB. PTX was defined by the absence of lung sliding and the presence of "lung point" and "stratosphere" sign. In cases of PTX, US was repeated at 2-hour intervals, and the resolution or progression of PTX was assessed based on dynamic shifts of the "lung points."
Results: A total of 379 FB procedures and 113 TBLB were performed during the study period. PTX occurred in 8 (2.1%) patients. US detected all cases of PTX, whereas CXR missed 1 PTX. The sensitivity, specificity, and overall accuracy for US were 100% as compared with sensitivity of 87.5% and accuracy of 99.6% for the CXR group. Shift of the "lung point" below the mid-thoracic line implied the progression of PTX and hence favored intervention (performed in 3 cases), whereas conservative management was done in cases where "lung point" shifted above mid-thoracic line.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates a good sensitivity of US in detecting PTX following TBBL. Bedside US may become the method of choice for diagnosing, monitoring, and managing PTX after TBLB.