Refinements and innovations in biopsy and analysis techniques for pleural and lung disease
1.1. Background Tumors arising from the lung, pleura, or chest wall are a frequent problem in clinical pulmonary medicine. Most lesions are either infectious, neoplastic or granulomatous in nature, but a variety of other differential diagnoses must be considered. An accurate diagnosis is important because the available treatments differ substantially, and because any delay will impair the prognosis in potentially curable patients with lung carcinoma. The investigations involve the disciplines of radiology, pulmonology, surgery, microbiology, and anatomical pathology and consume a respectable amount of resources. The aim of the work covered in this thesis was to optimize the available diagnostic methods for the routine use in a health care setting with limited resources. 1.2. Methods The general idea of this work was to identify conventional sampling methods that could be developed further to become more useful for the diagnosis of chest tumors in a low resource health care setting. The key method was research performed: a) to revise and expand the indication for a sampling method, b) to technically improve the sampling process, and c) to optimize sample transport, preparation and analysis in collaboration with the analytical laboratory. 1.3. Results A list of invasive diagnostic procedures, imaging methods and analytical processes were developed, evaluated and integrated into clinical practice. A) transbronchial needle aspiration, B) transthoracic cutting needle biopsy, C) transthoracic fine needle aspiration, D) transthoracic ultrasound, and E) rapid on-site evaluation of needle aspirates by a cytopathologist. Five studies pertaining to this thesis were published in international peerreviewed journals: â ¢ Safety and yield of ultrasound-assisted transthoracic biopsy performed by pulmonologists (Respiration 2004;71:519-22) This paper established that ultrasound-assisted transthoracic biopsy performed by pulmonologists is feasible, safe, practical, low-cost and has a high yield. â ¢ Utility of rapid on-site evaluation of transbronchial needle aspirates (Respiration 2005;72:182-8) This paper demonstrated the economical advantages of on-site evaluation of transbronchial specimens in a low-resource setting. â ¢ Transbronchial needle aspirates: comparison of two preparation methods (Chest 2005;127:2015-8) This paper demonstrated that preparing smears on-site has a far better yield than pooling samples into a vial. This means that the yield is improved over the current standard at no additional cost. â ¢ Transbronchial needle aspirates: how many passes per target site? (European Respiratory Journal 2007;29:112-6) This paper investigated the most economical and effective approach to serial sampling with transbronchial needle aspiration during flexible bronchoscopy. â ¢ Ultrasound assisted transthoracic biopsy: fine needle aspiration or cutting needle biopsy? (European Respiratory Journal 2007;29:357-62) This paper compared two common methods of sampling and demonstrates that the less expensive method is sufficient in the majority of cases. 1.4. Conclusion This work has impacted on current practice in multiple ways. Conventional methods have been optimized by improving technical factors and with the integration of interdisciplinary collaboration. The initiated research is ongoing with the aim to achieve continued technical and economical improvements in the diagnosis of chest tumors.