Background: A diagnostic lung biopsy may be required in some cases of fibrotic interstitial lung diseases (ILD). Transbronchial cryobiopsy has been suggested as a possible alternative to surgical lung biopsy. However, previous estimates of its diagnostic yield were not validated compared to the definitive diagnosis in explanted lungs. Objectives: We aimed to assess the diagnostic accuracy of cryobiopsy in fibrotic ILD patients who subsequently had lung transplantation. Methods: All 197 patients who underwent lung transplantation at our Center due to fibrotic ILD from January 2010 to May 2018, were screened for the presence of a pre-transplant cryobiopsy. Fourteen patients who underwent cryobiopsy before transplantation were identified. Two expert lung pathologists blindedto the explant diagnoses, independently examined these cryobiopsy specimens to decide if they match guideline criteria for usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) pattern or an alternative diagnosis. The primary measure was the diagnostic accuracy of cryobiopsy to detect or refute a UIP pattern, as compared to the final explant diagnosis. Results: Median time between cryobiopsy and transplantation was 1.4 years. All 14 cryobiopsy samples contained adequate alveolar tissue. The explant diagnosis of 13/14 patients was UIP. The two pathologists correctly diagnosed or refuted UIP in the cryobiopsy specimen in 12/14 cases (85.7%) and 11/14 cases (78.6%), respectively. The level of diagnostic agreement between pathologists was good (kappa 0.59, p = 0.016). Conclusions: Compared to the final explant diagnosis, transbronchial cryobiopsy had high diagnostic accuracy and good inter-observer agreement for UIP pattern. These findings support a potential diagnostic role for cryobiopsy in experienced centers.
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- Lung explant
- Transbronchial cryobiopsy
- Usual interstitial pneumonia