Is fine-needle aspiration diagnosis of malignancy adequate prior to major lung resections including pneumonectomy?

Maziar Khorsandi, Kasra Shaikhrezai, William Wallace, Edward Brackenbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

A best evidence topic in thoracic surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question addressed was whether a fine-needle aspiration (FNA) diagnosis is of sufficient reliability for the diagnosis of lung cancer prior to a major lung resection. Altogether, 112 papers were found using the reported search, of which 13 papers presented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The author, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes, results and study weaknesses of these papers are tabulated. The tabulated studies include two meta-analyses, one systematic review, one randomized controlled trial (RCT) and nine cohort studies. The specificity reported for FNA in the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer ranged from 96.2 to 100%. One meta-analysis reported a specificity of 97%. Another meta-analysis reported a specificity of 98.8%. A systematic review reported a specificity of 97%. An RCT reported a specificity of 96.2-100%. We conclude that the FNA for lung cancer is reported to be highly specific prior to major lung resection with a very low false positive rate. However, although a false positive may occasionally be acceptable in lobectomies, where the lobes are often removed without histology, all steps should be taken to avoid a false positive result in pneumonectomy considering the serious consequences of embarking upon such an operation in the small number of patients with a false positive result, and we recommend that a positive FNA result should be confirmed by means of alternative sampling methods. We also acknowledge that obtaining an additional biopsy specimen would add to the risk of morbidity and costs; therefore, any benefits should be weighed against risks and additional costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-7
Number of pages5
JournalInteractive cardiovascular and thoracic surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Aged
  • Benchmarking
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pneumonectomy
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


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