Comparison of open versus thoracoscopic lung biopsy for diffuse infiltrative pulmonary disease

P. F. Ferson, R. J. Landreneau, Robert Dowling, S. R. Hazelrigg, P. Ritter, S. Nunchuck, M. K. Perrino, C. M. Bowers, M. J. Mack, M. J. Magee, J. Benfield, V. Starnes

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161 Scopus citations


Background: Patients with diffuse pulmonary infiltrates often require biopsy for a diagnosis. Standard operative therapy, open wedge resection via thoracotomy, is associated with known morbidity. We hypothesized that closed thoracoscopic wedge resection may result in reduced morbidity and decreased duration of hospital stay. This retrospective study compares open resection with thoracoscopic wedge resection in patients with diffuse pulmonary infiltrates. Methods: Seventy-five patients with diffuse pulmonary infiltrates underwent diagnostic lung biopsy. Patients requiring mechanical ventilation and high levels of pressure support before biopsy were excluded from the study. Between March 1987 and September 1991, a total of 28 patients underwent open wedge resection via lateral thoracotomy. Since April 1991, a total of 47 patients underwent thoracoscopic resection. Results: There was no difference between the groups in age, sex, presence of immunosuppression, or final pathologic diagnosis. Adequate tissue was obtained for pathologic diagnosis in all patients of both groups. All surgeons believed that thoracoscopic biopsy provided better visualization of the entire lung than did a limited thoracotomy. Mean operative time was 69 minutes for open biopsies and 93 minutes for thoracoscopic biopsies [p = 0.038]. Mean duration of chest tube drainage was not significantly different between the two groups. Duration of hospital stay was significantly less for thoracoscopic biopsy (4.9 days) than for open biopsy (12.2 days) (p = 0.018). Fourteen of 28 open biopsies resulted in complications compared with 9 of 47 closed biopsies (p = 0.009). There were 6 deaths among patients having open biopsies and 3 deaths among those having closed biopsies (p = not significant). Conclusion: A significant decrease in hospital stay was noted with thoracoscopic biopsy when compared with lung biopsy via the standard open approaches. Thoracoscopy provided excellent visualization and allowed for wedge resection that provided adequate tissue for diagnosis in patients with diffuse pulmonary interstitial disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-199
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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