In-Hospital Mortality after Surgical Lung Biopsy for Interstitial Lung Disease in the United States. 2000 to 2011

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Surgical lung biopsy can help to determine a specific diagnosis in interstitial lung disease but has associated risks. Most currently available mortality data are derived from case series and may not be generalizable to broader populations.


To assess in-hospital mortality after surgical lung biopsy for interstitial lung disease in a national secondary care dataset from the United States.


Data were obtained from the 2000–2011 Nationwide Inpatient Sample. Cases were identified using International Classification of Diseases codes for interstitial lung disease and surgical lung biopsies. Lung resections and cases of lung cancer were excluded. Weighted data were used to estimate numbers of biopsies nationwide and in-hospital mortality, and multivariable logistic regression was used to adjust for sex, age, geographic region, comorbidity, type of operation, and provisional diagnosis.

Measurements and Main Results:

We estimated there to be around 12,000 surgical lung biopsies performed annually for interstitial lung disease in the United States, two-thirds of which were performed electively. In-hospital mortality was 1.7% for elective procedures but significantly higher for nonelective procedures (16.0%). Male sex, increasing age, increasing comorbidity, open surgery, and a provisional diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or connective tissue disease-related interstitial lung disease were risk factors for increased mortality.


In-hospital mortality after elective surgical lung biopsy for interstitial lung disease is just under 2% but significantly higher for nonelective procedures. Identified risk factors for death should be taken into account when counseling patients on whether to pursue a histologic diagnosis.

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