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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2009 Feb;137(2):413-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2008.09.042.

Should endobronchial ultrasonography be part of the thoracic surgeon's armamentarium?

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University of Pittsburgh, Heart, Lung and Esophageal Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.



The study objective was to determine the clinical usefulness and accuracy of endobronchial ultrasound-guided needle aspiration of mediastinal and hilar lymph nodes.


A retrospective analysis of a thoracic surgery unit's experience was performed.


In a period of 19 months, 75 patients underwent the procedure (mean age = 65.5 +/- 1.6 years; male to female = 2:1) most commonly for mediastinal lymphadenopathy in the setting of diagnosed or suspected lung cancer. It was diagnostic in 68.9% after rapid on-site evaluation and 74.3% after final cytologic examination. The rapid on-site evaluation and final cytology results were discordant in 16.2% (P < .001). In 50 cases, the needle aspirate cytology could be compared with pathology results. The sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of cancer were 85% and 100%, respectively. The false-negative rate endobronchial ultrasound cytology was 8.1%. Mediastinal lymph node station 7 was most commonly biopsied. The stations with the highest diagnostic yield were: 11R, 3, 10L, and 7. Of the patients with a positive positron emission tomography scan with suspected clinical stage III lung cancer, cancer was downstaged in 40% after endobronchial ultrasound.


Endobronchial ultrasound-guided needle aspiration is a clinically useful minimally invasive option for lung cancer staging and evaluation of mediastinal lymphadenopathy. The procedure should be considered complementary to mediastinoscopy.

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