The approach to the diagnosis and management of patients with diffuse infiltrative lung disease (DILD) is controversial. The results of transbronchial biopsy are often unsatisfactory. The role of open lung biopsy is highly variable. Percutaneous cutting needle biopsy (CNB) is not recommended because of its reported high morbidity/mortality relative to its low diagnostic yield. We report a technique for CNB with a high diagnostic yield and a low morbidity and no mortality in 228 patients with DILD over the past 23 years.
Methods: The salient features of the technique for CNB are as follows: the anesthetic needle does not enter the pleural space; a Franklin Silverman needle is inserted into the intercostal space posteriorly at outer one-third of chest wall; the biopsy is performed with the breath held at normal end expiration; the plane of pleural space is broken with sudden insertion of needle 8 to 15 cm into lung; and the pathway of the needle is maintained parallel to the lateral chest wall.
Results: A diagnosis was established in 129 of 145 biopsies (89%) performed by a trained operator (A.H.N.). There were 36 pneumothoraces (25%), four minimal hemoptyses (3%), and two chest tube placements (1%). There were no deaths (0%).
Conclusion: With meticulous attention to technique and careful selection of patients, the procedure offers a relatively safe alternative to open lung or thoracoscopic lung biopsy in patients with DILD.