Non-surgical needle biopsies in the lung may eliminate the need for children to undergo surgery

A pediatric study published in the September Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology shows non-surgical needle biopsies in the lung were 91 percent successful in providing sufficient tissue to determine a diagnosis.

These statistics compare favorably to the results reported using surgical methods. The minimally invasive CT-guided lung biopsy performed by interventional radiologists may eliminate the need for children to undergo surgery and anesthesia, while offering less risk, less pain, and less recovery time.

Percutaneous transthoracic needle biopsy is a well-established approach to lung biopsy in adult patients, and this study found the technique to be safe and accurate for children, especially infants and small children. A needle biopsy is a medical test that can identify the cause of an abnormal lump or mass in the body. Using imaging for guidance, an interventional radiologist inserts a small needle through the skin, into the abnormal area and removes a sample of the tissue, which is given to a pathologist to examine and determine the cause. With appropriate follow-up, in many cases it can be safely performed on an outpatient basis, and can often be performed using local anesthesia and sedation rather than general anesthesia.

In this study, 64 consecutive patients (32 male and 32 female) underwent CT-guided needle biopsy due to an unidentified focal nodular mass on a diagnostic chest CT. Half of the cases were performed on an outpatient basis. The lung biopsy specimens had a 91 percent diagnostic yield. This technique was effective in lesions as small as half a centimeter in diameter.

Procedures utilizing CT, ultrasound and fluoroscopy for guidance provide precision in localizing the lesion/mass and increase the proportion of diagnostic (true positive) procedures. Percutaneous techniques are less time-consuming, less invasive, require a shorter post-procedural stay and are less costly than surgical alternatives.

Interventional radiologists are physicians who specialize in minimally invasive, targeted treatments performed using imaging for guidance.

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