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Bronchoscopy |

Utility of Blind Forceps Biopsy of the Main Carina and Upper-Lobe Carina in Patients With Non-small Cell Lung Cancer*

Hakan Gunen, MD; Ozkan Kizkin, MD; Canan Tahaoglu, MD; Oguz Aktas, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From Inönü University (Drs. Gunen and Kizkin), Turgut Ozal Medical Center Research Hospital, Malatya; and SSK Süreyyapasa Center for Chest Disease and Cardiothoracic Surgery (Drs. Tahaoglu and Aktas), Istanbul, Turkey.

Correspondence to: Hakan Gunen, MD, Turgut Ozal Mahallesi, Akasya Sitesi A-Blok, No. 5, Malatya, Turkey



Chest. 2001;119(2):632-637. doi:10.1378/chest.119.2.632
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Background and objective: Preoperative detection of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) metastasis to the main carina and upper-lobe carina can alter the operative approach, preclude further staging procedures, and save many patients from thoracotomy. This study assessed whether bronchoscopic forceps biopsy of the normal-appearing main carina and upper-lobe carina (blind biopsy) ipsilateral to the primary NSCLC lesion improved the accuracy of cancer staging and helped guide the management of these patients.

Patients and methods: A prospective study of 52 patients was carried out at the SSK Süreyyapasa Center for Chest Disease and Cardiothoracic Surgery. Over a 6-month period, we bronchoscopically evaluated 52 consecutive NSCLC patients who were radiologically classified as operable. At least five blind forceps biopsy specimens were obtained from the main carina and/or upper-lobe carina during each patient’s initial fiberoptic bronchoscopic examination. Biopsy specimens were collected from the main carina and upper-lobe carina in 51 and 17 patients, respectively. Initially, all patients were staged and evaluated for operability in standard fashion, without histologic assessment of the blind biopsy specimens. We then restaged the disease and reassessed the patients’ operability in light of the biopsy findings.

Results: Metastasis was histologically diagnosed in seven patients (13.7%) who underwent main carina biopsy and in four patients (23.5%) who underwent upper-lobe carina biopsy. Cancer-positive blind biopsy results changed the status of 25% (6 of 24) of patients from operable to inoperable, and changed the surgical approach in 11.1% (2 of 18) of patients who ultimately did undergo surgery. We found no statistical relationship between metastasis to either carina and tumor type, stage of disease, visibility of the tumor on fiberoptic bronchoscopy, primary tumor location, T status, or N status (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: A blind forceps biopsy of the main carina and upper-lobe carina ipsilateral to the lesion site should be done routinely at initial bronchoscopic examination of all radiologically operable patients with suspected lung cancer. This type of screening can save a significant number of NSCLC patients from inappropriate or unnecessary thoracotomy and further staging procedures with their associated morbidity and risk.

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