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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2004 Mar;2(3):209-13.

Endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration biopsy of suspected cholangiocarcinoma.

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Departments of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alabama 35294-0007, USA.



Despite advances in endoscopic techniques for sampling bile duct strictures, the diagnosis of cholangiocarcinoma remains a challenge. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the yield of EUS-FNA and its impact on patient management for patients with suspected cholangiocarcinoma.


All patients undergoing EUS for the evaluation of suspected malignant biliary strictures were prospectively evaluated over a 23-month period. A single gastroenterologist performed all EUS-FNAs in the presence of a cytopathologist. Reference standard for final diagnosis included surgery, death from disease, and clinical and/or imaging follow-up.


Twenty-eight patients (mean age 67 years [SD +/- 11], 72% male) were evaluated. Most patients (91%) presented with obstructive jaundice, and all except 1 had nondiagnostic sampling of the biliary lesions either at ERCP (88%), percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (n = 2), and/or computed tomography-guided biopsy (n = 1). Sixty-seven percent (14/21) had no definitive mass seen on prior abdominal imaging studies. The mean tumor size by EUS was 19 mm x 16 mm with a median number of passes to diagnosis of 3 (range 1-7). The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy were 86%, 100%, 100%, 57%, and 88%, respectively. EUS-FNA had a positive impact on patient management in 84% of patients: preventing surgery for tissue diagnosis in patients with inoperable disease (n = 10), facilitating surgery in patients with unidentifiable cancer by other modalities (n = 8), and avoiding surgery in benign disease (n = 4).


Given the apparent accuracy and safety of EUS with FNA for imaging bile duct mass lesions and for obtaining a tissue diagnosis in patients with suspected cholangiocarcinoma, this technology may represent a new approach to diagnosis especially when other methods fail. The ability to obtain a definite diagnosis has a significant impact on patient management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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