Transbronchial needle aspiration staging of bronchogenic carcinoma

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1986 Jul;134(1):146-8. doi: 10.1164/arrd.1986.134.1.146.


Transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) has been advocated as a reliable technique in the nonsurgical staging of patients with bronchogenic carcinoma. Some have questioned the reliability of TBNA, however. We used TBNA directed by computed tomography (CT) in 88 consecutive patients with bronchogenic carcinoma who had undergone chest CT. Chest CT was 94% sensitive, 79% specific, and 85% accurate in evaluating the mediastinum for malignant lymphadenopathy. There were 19 malignant aspirates in 44 patients with malignancy and apparent adenopathy evaluated by chest CT. No malignant carinal aspirates were obtained in any patient with a normal mediastinum evaluated by chest CT. There were 2 false positive needle aspirates. One patient with apparent right paratracheal adenopathy and malignant needle aspirate had no mediastinal neoplasm detected at surgery. The other false positive aspirate had been contaminated by tracheal debris. The overall sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of TBNA mediastinal staging were 50, 96, and 78%, respectively. We conclude that CT scanning is a useful adjunct in the staging of patients with bronchogenic carcinoma, and that TBNA is a sensitive and highly specific staging technique that may negate the need for surgical staging in a large number of patients with bronchogenic carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / secondary
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed