Ultrasound-guided Lung Biopsy in the Hands of Respiratory Physicians: Diagnostic Yield and Complications in 215 Consecutive Patients in 3 Centers

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The aim of the study was to determine the diagnostic yield and prevalence of complications of ultrasound-guided transthoracic needle aspiration biopsies (US-TTNAB) performed by respiratory physicians after implementation of the procedure in an everyday clinical setting at 3 different centers.


Patients were included if they during the period from January 2012 to August 2014 had a registered US-TTNAB procedure code or if a US biopsy registration form had been filled out at either of the participating centers. Histology or cytology results were used as a reference test for diagnoses that could be made based on these results. Reference test for the remaining diagnoses was clinical follow-up. The diagnostic yield of US-TTNAB was defined as the proportion of patients in which the result of the US-TTNAB was consistent with the reference test.


A total of 215 patients in which a primary US-TTNAB had been performed were identified. The most common biopsy sites were lungs and pleurae with a total of 164 (76.3%) patients and 31 patients (14.4%), respectively. US-TTNAB diagnostic yield was 76.9% (95% CI, 70.3%-83.4%) for malignant diagnoses and 47.6% (95% CI, 31.9%-63.4%) for nonmalignant diagnoses. The most common complications of US-TTNAB were pneumothorax (2.5%; 95% CI, 0.03%-4.6%) and pain at the biopsy site (2%; 95% CI, 0.04%-3.9%). No fatalities related to US-TTNAB were observed.


US-TTNAB performed by respiratory physicians is a safe procedure with a low risk of complications and the diagnostic yield to establish a malignant diagnosis is acceptable.

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