Conventional Transbronchial Needle Aspiration: The Original Guard Who Still Has a Role in Mediastinal Lymph Node Sampling

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Introduction:Conventional transbronchial needle aspiration (C-TBNA) is the originally described method for sampling mediastinal lymph nodes (MLN). After the advent of endobronchial ultrasound, the practice and reports of C-TBNA have dwindled. We report a large series of C-TBNA from the Indian subcontinent, highlighting aspects such as pathological spectrum, yield and complications, and reiterating its relevance in MLN sampling.Methods:The study population included 400 consecutive patients over 6.8 years who had C-TBNA done for MLN ≥1 cm in size. C-TBNA was done using a 19-G needle, with conscious sedation. A maximum of 7 passes per node were done. Rapid-on-site evaluation was done in >95% cases. Lymph nodes sampled were labeled “adequate” if lymphocytes were present, and “diagnostic” if a definitive diagnosis was made.Results:The study included 228 males and 172 females, mean age 49.4±14.7 years. The “adequacy” rate was 383/400 (95.75%), and “diagnostic” yield was 347/400 (86.75%). C-TBNA was the sole diagnostic modality in 215/400 (53.75%) patients. The diagnoses included tuberculosis (43%), sarcoidosis (25.5%) and malignancy (18.25%). Complications were rare.Conclusions:This is one of the largest studies of C-TBNA in literature, and one of the few studies to define accurate pathologic diagnosis of enlarged MLN in India. This is also the one of the largest series to define the yield of TBNA with rapid-on-site evaluation in MLN sampling. Currently, in many parts of the world, C-TBNA is still the most common MLN sampling procedure, from an availability, expertise, economic, and safety perspective.

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