The role of open lung biopsy in the management and outcome of patients with diffuse lung disease

Mordechai R. Kramer*, Neville Berkman, Bella Mintz, Simon Godfrey, Milton Saute, Gail Amir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Open lung biopsy (OLB) has long been considered the gold standard for the diagnosis of parenchymal lung disease. With recent advances in computed tomographic imaging and diagnostic techniques (eg, bronchoscopy), we thought it necessary to reevaluate the role of OLB in the management of patients with interstitial lung disease. Methods. We carried out a retrospective analysis of 103 OLBs performed at Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, and Carmel Medical Center, Haifa, between 1980 and 1994. Data gathered included demographic information, underlying condition, indications for biopsy, diagnosis before biopsy, final diagnosis, change in therapy, and mortality. 'Benefit' was defined as a change in therapy resulting in survival. Results. There were 45 immunocompetent patients (group 1), 39 immunocompromised patients (group 2), and 26 children (group 3), 7 of whom were included in group 2 for analysis. Overall, a diagnosis was reached after OLB in 85% of patients. An unexpected diagnosis was reached in 52%, and a change in therapy was instituted in 46%. The overall mortality rate was 20%. In group 1, the mortality rate was 13%, and 'benefit' from OLB was reached in only 18%. In group 2, the mortality rate was 39%, and 'benefit' was achieved in 46%, and in group 3, the mortality rate was 12% and 'benefit', 50%. Conclusions. Open lung biopsy is an excellent diagnostic technique. In immunocompetent patients, the 'benefit' is relatively low, as therapy (corticosteroids) is frequently used after biopsy. In immunocompromised patients, therapy changes substantially after OLB, but mortality is high. Therefore, OLB should be reserved for patients in whom the diagnosis is likely to lead to a change in therapy and in patients in whom the underlying condition has a reasonable prognosis according to the clinical impression by the attending physician.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-202
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


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