A prospective study of conventional transbronchial needle aspiration: performance and cost utility.

A. R. Medford*, S. Agrawal, C. M. Free, J. A. Bennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Conventional transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) is a cheap, minimally invasive tool for lung cancer staging and diagnosis. Endobronchial ultrasound-guided TBNA (EBUS-TBNA) is more sensitive but is more expensive and less widely available. We describe a prospective analysis of TBNA diagnostic, staging and cost utility in a centre in the UK. Objectives: To illustrate the potential diagnostic, staging and cost utility of a low cost conventional TBNA service. METHODS: A prospective analysis of 79 TBNA procedures over a 2-year period was performed looking at performance and cost utility in a 'mixed' cohort with variable pre-test probability of malignancy (year 1) followed by a high probability cohort (year 2). RESULTS: TBNA avoided mediastinoscopy in 25% of the cases overall (37% in high probability vs. 13% in the 'mixed' cohort, p = 0.03). The overall prevalence of malignancy was 84%, sensitivity 79%, negative predictive value 58% and accuracy 85%. Diagnostic utility varied with pre-test probability and nodal station. TBNA down-staged 8% of lung cancer patients to receive surgery and confirmed the pre-treatment stage (inoperability) in 74%. TBNA led to theoretical cost savings of GBP 560 per patient. CONCLUSIONS: TBNA can achieve a high diagnostic sensitivity for cancer in high probability patients and stage the majority appropriately, thereby avoiding unnecessary mediastinoscopies and reducing costs. It may also down-stage a minority to have surgery. TBNA is cheap, routinely available and learnable. As EBUS-TBNA will take time to develop due to its costs, all respiratory centres should perform TBNA at flexible bronchoscopy in suspected lung cancer with accessible mediastinal adenopathy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-489
Number of pages8
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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