Utility of microbiological testing of thoracic lymph nodes sampled by endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) in patients with mediastinal lymphadenopathy

Diagn Microbiol Infect Dis. 2016 Feb;84(2):170-4. doi: 10.1016/j.diagmicrobio.2015.10.013. Epub 2015 Oct 21.


Endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) represents a minimally invasive technique to sample peribronchial and mediastinal lymph nodes for diagnosis of cancer, lymphoma, or sarcoidosis. However, the value of EBUS-TBNA in diagnosis of respiratory infections has not been well explored. Here, microbiologic testing data for EBUS-TBNA samples collected from 82 patients over a 30-month period were retrospectively reviewed. No organisms were identified on Gram, acid-fast, or fungal stains. Bacterial cultures were positive in 52% of samples; however, all but 1 culture were considered contaminants. Mycobacterial cultures yielded Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare not identified in a concurrent bronchoalveolar lavage sample in 1 patient. Fungal cultures were negative. Overall, routine microbiologic tests on EBUS-TBNA samples do not appear sufficiently sensitive to rule out infectious causes of adenopathy. High clinical suspicion for infection may require modification of sampling techniques or more sensitive detection methods.

Keywords: Culture; Endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration; Lymph node; Microbiology.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Communicable Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Endoscopic Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / microbiology*
  • Lymphatic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Young Adult