Transthoracic needle biopsy of the lung

J Thorac Dis. 2015 Dec;7(Suppl 4):S304-16. doi: 10.3978/j.issn.2072-1439.2015.12.16.


Background: Image guided transthoracic needle aspiration (TTNA) is a valuable tool used for the diagnosis of countless thoracic diseases. Computed tomography (CT) is the most common imaging modality used for guidance followed by ultrasound (US) for lesions abutting the pleural surface. Novel approaches using virtual CT guidance have recently been introduced. The objective of this review is to examine the current literature for TTNA biopsy of the lung focusing on diagnostic accuracy and safety.

Methods: MEDLINE was searched from inception to October 2015 for all case series examining image guided TTNA. Articles focusing on fluoroscopic guidance as well as influence of rapid on-site evaluation (ROSE) on yield were excluded. The diagnostic accuracy, defined as the number of true positives divided by the number of biopsies done, as well as the complication rate [pneumothorax (PTX), bleeding] was examined for CT guided TTNA, US guided TTNA as well as CT guided electromagnetic navigational-TTNA (E-TTNA). Of the 490 articles recovered 75 were included in our analysis.

Results: The overall pooled diagnostic accuracy for CT guided TTNA using 48 articles that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria was 92.1% (9,567/10,383). A similar yield was obtained examining ten articles using US guided TTNA of 88.7% (446/503). E-TTNA, being a new modality, only had one pilot study citing a diagnostic accuracy of 83% (19/23). Pooled PTX and hemorrhage rates were 20.5% and 2.8% respectively for CT guided TTNA. The PTX rate was lower in US guided TTNA at a pooled rate of 4.4%. E-TTNA showed a similar rate of PTX at 20% with no incidence of bleeding in a single pilot study available.

Conclusions: Image guided TTNA is a safe and accurate modality for the biopsy of lung pathology. This study found similar yield and safety profiles with the three imaging modalities examined.

Keywords: CT guided electromagnetic navigational TTNA; Image guided lung biopsy; computed tomography guided TTNA (CT guided TTNA); transthoracic needle aspiration (TTNA); ultrasound guided TTNA (US guided TTNA).

Publication types

  • Review