Possible Use of Linear Echobronchoscope for Diagnosis of Peripheral Pulmonary Nodules

Diagnostics (Basel). 2023 Jul 17;13(14):2393. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics13142393.


Echobronchoscope-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) is mainly used as the transbronchial approach to hilar/mediastinal lymph nodes or lesions, for diagnostic or staging purposes. Moreover, the role of linear EBUS-TBNA as a diagnostic tool for central intrapulmonary lesions adjacent to the trachea or the major bronchi is also well established. However, since the tip of the ultrasound probe at the distal end of the echobronchoscope is very thin, it can be wedged through smaller peripheral bronchi, reaching the distal parenchyma and allowing for peripheral pulmonary lesion sampling. The main aim of this retrospective study was to evaluate the diagnostic yield and the safety of EBUS-TBNA in the diagnosis of pulmonary peripheral nodules. The database of the Interventional Pulmonology Unit of Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria delle Marche (Ancona, Italy) was evaluated to identify peripheral pulmonary nodules approached by EBUS-TBNA. Thirty patients with a single peripheral pulmonary nodule located peripherally to the subsegmental bronchi of the lower lobes and adjacent to a small bronchus greater than 3 mm in diameter were included in this study. The nodule was visible using endoscopic ultrasound in 28 patients and the diagnosis was obtained via EBUS-TBNA in 26 cases (12 adenocarcinoma, 5 typical carcinoid tumors, 4 hamartoma and 5 metastatic lesions). The diagnostic yield was 86.6% for all 30 patients and 92.8% if only the 28 patients in which the lesion was visualized via echobronchoscopy were considered. No relevant adverse events were observed. We conclude that EBUS-TBNA may be an effective and safe option to sample pulmonary peripheral nodules in selected patients with lower lobe peripheral pulmonary lesions adjacent to small bronchi greater than 3 mm in diameter and reachable with the EBUS-TBNA probe.

Keywords: EBUS-TBNA; linear echobronchoscope; peripheral pulmonary nodule; transbronchial approach to pulmonary nodules; transbronchial needle aspiration.

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.