Percutaneous Transthoracic Needle Biopsy of the Lung: Review of 612 Lesions1

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The results and complications of 651 pulmonary fine-needle aspiration biopsies (FNABs) were reviewed. The number of needle passes and needle size were correlated to pneumothorax and chest tube placement rates.


FNAB of the lung was performed on 651 occasions in 612 patients with 18- to 22-gauge Franseen needles. Diagnostic rates were calculated. The number of needle passes performed and needle size used were evaluated for their association with pneumothorax and subsequent chest tube placement.


Diagnostic accuracy was 94% with sensitivity for malignancy of 95%. Positive and negative predictive values were 99.5% and 90%, respectively. Pneumothorax occurred in 26.9% of patients with 9.2% requiring chest tube placement. Increasing numbers of needle passes and larger needle sizes did not increase the rates of pneumothorax or chest tube placement.


FNAB of the lung has excellent diagnostic rates and remains the procedure of choice for diagnosing pulmonary lesions. This large study contradicts perceptions that pneumothorax and chest tube placement rates decrease with thinner needles and fewer passes.

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