Study objective: Our group performed a randomized trial to assess whether the addition of endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) guidance will lead to better results than standard transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNS). EBUS guidance seems to be beneficial in increasing the yield of TBNA but has not been proven to be superior to conventional procedures in a randomized trial.
Methods: Consecutive patients who were referred for TBNA were randomized to an EBUS-guided and a conventional TBNA arm. Patients with subcarinal lymph nodes were randomized and analyzed separately (group A) from all other stations (group B). A positive result was defined as either lymphocytes or a specific abnormality on cytology.
Results: Two hundred patients were examined (100 patients each in groups A and B). Half of the patients underwent EBUS-guided TBNA rather than conventional TBNA. In group A, the yield of conventional TBNA was 74% compared to 86% in the EBUS group (difference not significant). In group B, the overall yields were 58% and 84%, respectively. This difference was statistically highly significant (p < 0.001). The average number of passes was four.
Conclusion: EBUS guidance significantly increases the yield of TBNA in all stations except in the subcarinal region. It should be considered to be a routine adjunct to TBNA. On-site cytology may be unnecessary, and the number of necessary needle passes required is low.