Endobronchial Ultrasound-Guided Cautery-Assisted Transbronchial Forceps Biopsies: Safety and Sensitivity Relative to Transbronchial Needle Aspiration

Kyle Bramley, Margaret A. Pisani, Terrence E. Murphy, Katy L. Araujo, Robert J. Homer, Jonathan T. Puchalski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (SciVal)


Background Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS)-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) is important in the evaluation of thoracic lymphadenopathy. Reliably providing excellent diagnostic yield for malignancy, its diagnosis of sarcoidosis is inconsistent. Furthermore, TBNA may not suffice when larger "core biopsy" samples of malignant tissue are required. The primary objective of this study was to determine if the sequential use of TBNA and a novel technique called cautery-assisted transbronchial forceps biopsy (ca-TBFB) was safe. Secondary outcomes included sensitivity and successful acquisition of tissue. Methods The study prospectively enrolled 50 unselected patients undergoing convex-probe EBUS. All lymph nodes exceeding 1 cm were sequentially biopsied under EBUS guidance using TBNA and ca-TBFB. Safety and sensitivity were assessed at the nodal level for 111 nodes. Results of each technique were also reported for each patient. Results There were no significant adverse events. In nodes determined to be malignant, TBNA provided higher sensitivity (100%) than ca-TBFB (78%). However, among nodes with granulomatous inflammation, ca-TBFB exhibited higher sensitivity (90%) than TBNA (33%). On the one hand, for analysis based on patients rather than nodes, 6 of the 31 patients with malignancy would have been missed or understaged if the diagnosis were based on samples obtained by ca-TBFB. On the other hand, 3 of 8 patients with sarcoidosis would have been missed if analysis were based only on TBNA samples. In some patients, only ca-TBFB acquired sufficient tissue for the core samples needed in clinical trials of malignancy. Conclusions The sequential use of TBNA and ca-TBFB appears to be safe. The larger samples obtained from ca-TBFB increased its sensitivity to detect granulomatous disease and provided adequate specimens for clinical trials of malignancy when specimens from needle biopsies were insufficient. For thoracic surgeons and advanced bronchoscopists, we advocate ca-TBFB as an alternative to TBNA in select clinical scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1870-1876
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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