Comparison of CT and fiberoptic bronchoscopy in the evaluation of bronchial disease

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1987 Jan;148(1):1-7. doi: 10.2214/ajr.148.1.1.


CT was compared to fiberoptic bronchoscopy in a large series of patients to study the value of CT for visualizing bronchial disease. CT scans were available for review in 64 cases in which focal airway disease was identified with fiberoptic bronchoscopy and in 38 patients in whom the airways appeared normal at bronchoscopy. CT was positive in 59 of 64 cases in which lesions were detected endoscopically. If the results are analyzed according to the extent of involvement of individual bronchi, CT successfully identified 88 (90%) of 98 lesions. CT correctly excluded disease in 35 (92%) of 38 cases that were subsequently verified to be normal by fiberoptic bronchoscopy. In no case was the diagnosis of malignancy missed by CT. While extremely accurate in detecting focal lesions, CT was inaccurate in predicting whether a given abnormality was endobronchial, submucosal, or extrinsic (peribronchial). In three cases CT failed to detect submucosal extension into the left mainstream bronchus, which has important implications concerning the value of CT in staging bronchial malignancy. It is concluded that CT is helpful when bronchoscopy is contraindicated or refused. CT may also be used in selected cases when there is low clinical suspicion of endobronchial disease and as a complementary procedure to fiberoptic bronchoscopy for outlining the exact location of major mediastinal and hilar vessels, lymph nodes, and tumor in relation to adjacent airways.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Bronchial Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Bronchoscopy*
  • Fiber Optic Technology / instrumentation
  • Humans
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*