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Original Research |

The Role of Conventional Bronchoscopy in the Workup of Suspicious CT Scan Screen-Detected Pulmonary NodulesValue of Bronchoscopy for CT Scan-Detected Nodules

Susan C. van ’t Westeinde, MD; Nanda Horeweg, MD; René M. Vernhout, MD; Harry J. M. Groen, MD, PhD; Jan-Willem J. Lammers, MD, PhD; Carla Weenink, MD; Kristiaan Nackaerts, MD, PhD; Matthijs Oudkerk, MD, PhD; Willem Mali, MD, PhD; Frederik B. Thunnissen, MD, PhD; Harry J. de Koning, MD, PhD; Rob J. van Klaveren, MD, PhD
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Pulmonary Medicine (Drs van ’t Westeinde, Vernhout, and van Klaveren) and Department of Public Health (Drs van ’t Westeinde, Horeweg, and de Koning), Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Department of Pulmonary Medicine (Dr Groen) and Department of Radiology (Dr Oudkerk), University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands; Department of Pulmonary Medicine (Dr Lammers) and Department of Radiology (Dr Mali), University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands; Department of Pulmonary Medicine (Dr Weenink), Kennemer Gasthuis Haarlem, Haarlem, The Netherlands, Department of Pulmonary Medicine (Dr Nackaerts), UZ Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium; and Department of Pathology (Dr Thunnissen), VU Medical Center Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Correspondence to: Susan C. van ’t Westeinde, MD, Erasmus Medical Center, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, ’s Gravendijkwal 230, 3015 CE, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; e-mail: s.vantwesteinde@erasmusmc.nl


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Funding/Support: The NELSON trial is financially supported by Zorg Onderzoek Nederland-Medische Wetenschappen, KWF Kankerbestrijding, Stichting Centraal Fonds Reserves van Voormalig Vrijwillige Ziekenfondsverzekeringen, G. Ph. Verhagen Foundation, Rotterdam Oncologic Thoracic Study Group, Erasmus Trust Fund, Stichting tegen Kanker (Belgium), Vlaamse Liga tegen Kanker, and LOGO Leuven and Hageland.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2012;142(2):377-384. doi:10.1378/chest.11-2030
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Background:  Up to 50% of the participants in CT scan lung cancer screening trials have at least one pulmonary nodule. To date, the role of conventional bronchoscopy in the workup of suspicious screen-detected pulmonary nodules is unknown. If a bronchoscopic evaluation could be eliminated, the cost-effectiveness of a screening program could be enhanced and the potential harms of bronchoscopy avoided.

Methods:  All consecutive participants with a positive result on a CT scan lung cancer screening between April 2004 and December 2008 were enrolled. The diagnostic sensitivity and negative predictive value were calculated at the level of the suspicious nodules. In 95% of the nodules, the gold standard for the outcome of the bronchoscopy was based on surgical resection specimens.

Results:  A total of 318 suspicious lesions were evaluated by bronchoscopy in 308 participants. The mean ± SD diameter of the nodules was 14.6 ± 8.7 mm, whereas only 2.8% of nodules were > 30 mm in diameter. The sensitivity of bronchoscopy was 13.5% (95% CI, 9.0%-19.6%); the specificity, 100%; the positive predictive value, 100%; and the negative predictive value, 47.6% (95% CI, 41.8%-53.5%). Of all cancers detected, 1% were detected by bronchoscopy only and were retrospectively invisible on both low-dose CT scan and CT scan with IV contrast.

Conclusion:  Conventional white-light bronchoscopy should not be routinely recommended for patients with positive test results in a lung cancer screening program.

Trial registration:  Nederlands Trial Register; No.: ISRCTN63545820; URL: www.trialregister.nl.

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