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Clin Radiol. 2008 Mar;63(3):272-7. doi: 10.1016/j.crad.2007.09.003. Epub 2007 Nov 19.

CT-guided percutaneous fine-needle aspiration biopsy of pulmonary nodules measuring 10 mm or less.

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  • 1Joint Department of Medical Imaging, Thoracic Division, University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



To determine the value of computed tomography (CT)-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) of small pulmonary nodules measuring 10 mm or less.


CT-guided FNABs of 55 nodules, measuring 10mm or less, were performed between January 2003 and February 2006. A coaxial technique was used, with an outer 19 G Bard Truguide needle and inner 22 G disposable Greene biopsy needle. Adequacy of specimens was assessed on-site by a cytotechnologist. The sizes of the nodules, distance from pleura, number of pleural punctures and aspirates, complications encountered, cytological diagnosis, and outcome were recorded.


The mean nodule diameter was 9 mm (range 5-10 mm). The average distance from the costal pleura was 31 mm (range 0-88 mm). In 50 of the 55 FNABs, the pleura was crossed once. An average of four aspirates was performed per case. Twenty-five FNABs (45.5%) were adequate for diagnosis (24 malignant and one tuberculosis). In 11 cases, where no definite diagnosis was made following FNAB, the outcome was not affected. In 10 cases, samples were insufficient for diagnosis and the nodules were subsequently diagnosed as malignant. Eight cases were excluded in the final analysis as follow-up details were unavailable. The sensitivity for malignancy and overall accuracy were 67.7 and 78.8%, respectively. Pneumothorax occurred in 29 (52.7%) patients, with five (9.1%) requiring thoracostomy tubes.


CT-guided FNAB is a useful tool in the diagnosis and management of small pulmonary nodules, despite the lower diagnostic accuracy and higher complication rate than those of larger pulmonary lesions.

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