Objectives: To assess the ability of selective bronchography to predict which patients with neoplastic postobstructive atelectasis will respond to interventional therapies directed at the reexpansion of the affected lung. Furthermore, to compare the utility of selective bronchography with the current predictive standard that reversal of postobstructive atelectasis is unlikely when it is ≥ 4 weeks in duration (ie, the 4-week rule).
Design: A prospective observational study.
Setting: A tertiary care referral center/medical school.
Patients: Twenty-seven consecutive patients with advanced lung cancer or other malignancy, with documented neoplastic postobstructive atelectasis involving a total of 44 lobes.
Interventions: Lobar collapse was documented radiographically. The duration of atelectasis was investigated and quantified as accurately as possible. Prior to the use of interventional therapies, selective bronchography was performed on each collapsed lobe, and the results were documented. Bronchography results did not influence the decision to proceed with interventional therapies. Patients had each of their collapsed lobes manipulated by interventional techniques that were directed at reexpansion of the lung. One week after the patient underwent the intervention, the degree of reexpansion was assessed radiographically.
Results: Interventional therapies leading to significant reversal of airway narrowing were completed in all 44 lobes. These were successful in reexpanding 28 of 44 collapsed lobes (64%). Selective bronchography demonstrated the following two distinct patterns: an intact bronchial tree (ie, tree pattern); or the absence of a distinguishable, distal bronchial tree (ie, blush pattern). The sensitivity of selective bronchography to predict reexpansion is 1.00 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.90 to 1.00), and its specificity is 0.56 (95% CI, 0.30 to 0.80). There were no complications attributable to selective bronchography. The sensitivity of the 4-week rule to predict reexpansion is 0.61 (95% CI, 0.41 to 0.78), and its specificity is 0.75 (95% CI, 0.48 to 0.93). The results of selective bronchography and use of the 4-week rule were significantly different in predicting which lobes would reexpand and which would not (p = 0.0026). Using selective bronchography to predict the reversal of lobar atelectasis, the positive predictive value of the tree pattern was 0.80 and the negative predictive value of the blush pattern was 1.00. The values for the 4-week rule are 0.81 and 0.52, respectively.
Conclusions: Selective bronchography is a useful tool for predicting whether patients with neoplastic postobstructive atelectasis would benefit from interventional techniques that are directed at lobar reexpansion. Selective bronchography appears to be superior to the 4-week rule in this regard.