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Radiology. 1996 May;199(2):489-96.

Transthoracic needle biopsy of mediastinal lymph nodes for staging lung and other cancers.

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Department of Radiology, Hospital of Saint Raphael, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.



To determine the usefulness of transthoracic needle biopsy of mediastinal lymphadenopathy for staging suspected lung and other cancers.


Transthoracic needle biopsy of the hilum or mediastinum was performed in 111 patients with suspected neoplasms. Most biopsy procedures were performed with computed tomographic guidance on an outpatient basis. Forty-eight adult patients had enlarged lymph nodes (defined as < or = 30 mm in the long axis and > or = 10 mm in the short axis). Sixty-three lesions larger than 30 mm were arbitrarily considered to be masses and were excluded.


Carcinoma was diagnosed in 40 patients. Four patients had true-negative and one patient had false-negative results. Sensitivity for carcinoma was therefore 98% (40 of 41). One patient with a negative biopsy result did not have surgical confirmation and was excluded from analysis. Lymphoma was excluded from analysis. Lymphoma was diagnosed in two patients (positive in one and suspicious in one). Pneumothorax occurred in 19 (34%) of 56 biopsy procedures. Chest tube treatment was required in eight (14%).


Transthoracic needle biopsy of mediastinal lymphadenopathy is a safe, accurate diagnostic staging procedure. It can frequently be used as an alternative to mediastinoscopy in patients with lymphadenopathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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