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Chest. 1994 Jun;105(6):1663-7.

Use of fiberoptic bronchoscopy in the diagnosis of bronchogenic carcinoma. A study in patients with idiopathic pleural effusions.

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  • 1Highland Hospital, Rochester, NY 14620.


We reviewed our experience with 115 patients with pleural effusion in whom bronchogenic carcinoma was suspected who underwent fiberoptic bronchoscopy (FOB) to identify those for whom the procedure was useful. In 6 of 12 patients with hemoptysis, 8 of 12 with a mass or infiltrate, and 8 of 18 with atelectasis with negative fluid cytology and 3 of 7 with cytology positive, FOB was useful in diagnosis. Sixty-six patients had an isolated cytology-negative effusion. Seven of 18 with massive effusion had FOB detecting cancer. Fiberoptic bronchoscopy usually was nondiagnostic in lesser-sized effusions (47 of 48). Using outcome for those with nondiagnostic FOB, we established operating characteristics for the procedure. We conclude that FOB is useful in diagnosing bronchogenic carcinoma in such patients when there is hemoptysis, accompanying lung mass or infiltrate, atelectasis, the effusion is massive, or in cytology-positive effusions without obvious primary tumor. Due to the low prevalence of bronchogenic carcinoma in patients with effusions of lesser size, we suggest that in this group FOB not be routinely performed.

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