Bronchoscopy in patients with space-occupying brain lesions is anecdotally felt to carry a high risk of neurologic complications.
We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients with evidence of a malignant, space-occupying brain lesion who were referred for flexible or rigid bronchoscopy or endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA). The primary outcome of interest was the incidence of neurologic complications following the procedures in these patients.
Of the 103 enrolled patients, flexible bronchoscopy was performed in 41, rigid bronchoscopy in 12, and EBUS-TBNA in 50. Among these patients, 41 (40%) had evidence suggestive of increased intracranial pressure on imaging. Among all study patients, none (95% CI, 0-0.035) had neurologic, procedure-specific, or sedation-specific complications, and the level of care was not escalated in any of these patients.
On the basis of our findings, we recommend that procedures such as flexible or rigid bronchoscopy or EBUS-TBNA in patients with malignant space-occupying brain lesions should be considered reasonably safe as long as neurologic findings are stable.