Diagnostic yield and postoperative mortality associated with surgical lung biopsy for evaluation of interstitial lung diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2015 May;149(5):1394-401.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2014.12.057. Epub 2015 Jan 8.


Objectives: Surgical lung biopsy plays an important role in providing pathologic results, thus complementing the diagnostic rationale for suspected interstitial lung diseases. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis regarding the diagnostic yield and postoperative mortality rate of surgical lung biopsy in patients with suspected interstitial lung diseases because of the wide variation in previously reported effectiveness and safety concerns.

Methods: We systematically searched for published studies between 2000 and 2014 evaluating surgical lung biopsy in the diagnosis of interstitial lung diseases. Subgroup analysis was performed to identify the possible source of study heterogeneity.

Results: Twenty-three studies contributed 2148 patients for the analysis. The median diagnostic yield was 95% (range, 42%-100%), with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis as the most frequent diagnosis (618, 33.5%). Surgical lung biopsy was mainly guided by high-resolution computed tomography manifestations. Biopsy site, biopsy number, and the surgical lung biopsy method may not be associated with the diagnostic accuracy. The pooled postoperative mortality rate for included studies was 3.6% (95% confidence interval, 2.1-5.5), with significant heterogeneity observed. Subgroup analysis revealed that exclusion criteria based on immunocompromised status, mechanical ventilation, and severe respiratory dysfunction (diffusing capacity of lung for carbon monoxide <35% or forced vital capacity <55% predicted), but not surgical lung biopsy technique or underlying interstitial lung disease subtype, may be possible sources of heterogeneity.

Conclusions: We demonstrated a satisfactory diagnostic performance with a favorable safety profile of surgical lung biopsy in the diagnosis of suspected interstitial lung diseases. Surgical lung biopsy is especially recommended in patients with clinical information indicative but atypical of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, whereas the benefit of surgical lung biopsy should be carefully balanced against the risk for patients with immunocompromised status, mechanical ventilation dependence, or severe respiratory dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy / adverse effects
  • Biopsy / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / mortality
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / pathology*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / surgery
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed