Study objectives: Recently, pulmonologists have performed thoracoscopy under local anesthesia using rigid thoracoscopes or flexible bronchoscopes. The latter allow greater access within the pleural cavity but are difficult to manipulate. The Olympus LTF semiflexible fiberoptic thoracoscope combines features of both instruments, having a solid body and a flexible terminal section. In the first study with this instrument, we evaluated ease of use and compared diagnostic yield with closed needle biopsy.
Patients: Twenty-four patients with pleural effusion were investigated.
Setting: Scottish University Hospital.
Design: Thoracoscopy was performed in the bronchoscopy suite after premedication with atropine and papaveretum. Following a standard Abram's needle biopsy, the LTF thoracoscope was inserted through a flexible introducer (Olympus Optical Co Ltd; Tokyo, Japan). The pleura was inspected and biopsy specimens were taken of suspicious areas.
Results: The final diagnosis was malignant pleural effusion in 16 of 24 patients. Ten of 16 were positive by Abram's biopsy, giving a sensitivity of 62%. Thirteen of 16 were positive by fiberoptic thoracoscopy, giving an improved sensitivity of 81%. The LTF thoracoscope was easy to use for pulmonologists experienced in rigid thoracoscopy and flexible bronchoscopy. Excellent views of the pleura were obtained from a single entry point. The procedure was well tolerated and no complications were encountered.
Conclusion: The LTF thoracoscope allows excellent pleural access but a larger biopsy channel (currently 2 mm) might increase the accuracy of diagnosis.