Background: Transbronchial biopsy (TBB) which is performed with metal forceps (forceps TBB) has been accepted as a useful technique in establishing diagnoses of diffuse lung diseases (DLDs). The use of cryoprobes to obtain alveolar tissue (cryo-TBB) is a new method which is currently used by our institute as well as others with excellent results.
Objectives: To assess the safety of cryo-TBB compared with conventional forceps TBB.
Methods: We performed a retrospective data evaluation of 300 consecutive patients who underwent cryo-TBB between January 2012 and April 2014 and compared them with historical cases treated with forceps TBB between 2010 and 2012. The results of both diagnostic modalities were compared based on pathological reports. The major complications (significant bleeding and pneumothorax) were compared, along with postprocedural hospitalization.
Results: Pneumothorax was observed in 15 cases (4.95%) treated with cryo-TBB versus 9 cases (3.15%) treated with forceps TBB, with no significant difference (p = 0.303). The insertion of a chest tube was necessary in 6 (2%) and 4 (1.3%) of the cases having undergone cryo-TBB or forceps TBB, respectively (p = 0.8). In the cryo-TBB group, bleeding was encountered in 16 cases (5.2%), and it occurred in 13 cases (4.5%) of the forceps TBB group, with no significant difference in rates (p = 0.706). Also, there was no significant difference in hospital admission rates between the groups [cryo-TBB: 10 (3.3%); forceps TBB: 4 (1.44%); p = 0.181]. The safety profile of cryo- and forceps TBB remained the same even when stratified according to indications for TBB, i.e. immunocompromised hosts, patients after lung transplantation and those with DLDs.
Conclusion: In patients with DLDs, cryo-TBB is as safe as forceps TBB.