Study objective: To evaluate the role of transbronchial biopsies (TBBs) in pediatric lung diseases.
Design and methods: We reviewed the records of TBBs performed in pediatric patients at the University of Florida between July 1996 and August 2003. The sample adequacy, diagnostic utility, and procedural complications of the two types of bronchoscopy apparatuses used to collect the samples were assessed and compared.
Patients: A total of 429 TBB procedures were performed in 46 patients (age range, 2 months to 21 years) who had received a heart-lung or lung transplant and in 38 non-lung transplant patients (age range, 2 weeks to 18 years). For 86 procedures, the pediatric bronchoscope and forceps that fit in a 1.2-mm channel were used, and a small adult bronchoscope and 2.0-mm forceps were used for the remaining procedures.
Results: Adequate tissue samples were obtained in 85% of the procedures using a pediatric bronchoscope and in 97% using an adult bronchoscope. In the non-lung transplant patients, the biopsy findings were considered to be diagnostic in 58% of all procedures (adult bronchoscope, 64%; and pediatric bronchoscope, 50%), contributory in 21%, and noncontributory in 21%. In the lung transplant patients, treatable acute cellular rejection was diagnosed in 24% of the surveillance TBBs and in 47% of the TBBs performed as a result of clinical symptoms. Complications included five pneumothoraces and five episodes of excessive bleeding requiring the discontinuation of the procedure in three of the cases.
Conclusions: Adequate lung tissue for histologic diagnosis can be obtained safely and effectively from pediatric patients of all ages via flexible bronchoscopy with TBB. The performance of bronchoscopy should be considered based on clinical indications, rather than on the age or size of the patient, when a tissue diagnosis is needed. When feasible, the use of an adult bronchoscope is preferable due to the higher diagnostic yield.