Utility of Transbronchial vs Surgical Lung Biopsy in the Diagnosis of Suspected Fibrotic Interstitial Lung Disease

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Abstract

Background:

Surgical lung biopsy (SLB) is invasive and not possible in all patients with undiagnosed interstitial lung disease (ILD). We hypothesized that transbronchial biopsy (TBB) findings combined with clinical and high-resolution CT (HRCT) data leads to a confident diagnosis congruent to SLB and therefore avoids the need for SLB in some patients.

Methods:

We evaluated 33 patients being investigated for suspected ILD who underwent HRCT, TBB, and SLB. First, clinicians, radiologists, and a pathologist reviewed the clinical information and HRCT and TBB findings. Clinicians were asked to provide a diagnosis and were also asked if SLB was needed for a more confident diagnosis. Subsequently, the clinical, HRCT, and SLB data were reviewed, and the same participants were asked to provide a final diagnosis. Clinician consensus and overall agreement between TBB- and SLB-based diagnoses were calculated.

Results:

Four patients had definite usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) on HRCT and would not be considered for biopsy using current guidelines. Of the 29 patients without a definitive HRCT diagnosis, the clinicians felt confident of the diagnosis (ie, would not recommend SLB) in six cases. In these cases, there was 100% agreement between TBB and SLB diagnoses. UIP was the most common diagnosis (n = 3) and was associated with an HRCT diagnosis of possible UIP/nonspecific interstitial pneumonia-like. Agreement was poor (33%) between TBB and SLB diagnoses when confidence in the TBB diagnosis was low.

Conclusions:

Information from TBB, when combined with clinical and HRCT data, may provide enough information to make a confident and accurate diagnosis in approximately 20% to 30% of patients with ILD.

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