Computed tomography-guided percutaneous needle biopsy of pulmonary nodules: Impact of nodule size on diagnostic accuracy

Nishita Kothary, Laura Lock, Daniel Y. Sze, Lawrence V. Hofmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study was undertaken to compare the diagnostic accuracy and complication rate of computed tomography (CT)-guided percutaneous lung biopsies of lung nodules ≤1.5 cm versus > 1.5 cm in diameter. Patients and Methods: A total of 139 patients (age range, 18-89 years; mean, 62.5 years) underwent CT-guided percutaneous fine-needle aspiration biopsy or 20-gauge core biopsy using an automated biopsy gun. In 37 patients, the lung nodule measured ≤ 1.5 cm (mean, 1.1 cm), and in 102 patients, the lung nodule was > 1.5 cm (mean, 2.8 cm). Diagnostic accuracy was determined by cytopathology results. Major and minor complications were documented. Results: Overall diagnostic accuracy, pneumothorax rate, and thoracostomy tube insertion rates were 67.6%, 34.5%, and 5%, respectively. Of the 98 patients with malignancy, 77 patients (78.6%) had a definite diagnostic biopsy. Overall, nodules > 1.5 cm were statistically more likely to result in a diagnostic specimen (73.5%) than nodules ?≤1.5 cm (51.4%; P = .012). Similarly, diagnostic accuracy for malignancy was higher in nodules > 1.5 cm than in those ≤ 1.5 cm (81.3% vs. 69.6%); however, this was not statistically significant. There was no correlation between nodule size and the incidence of complications. Conclusion: Overall, diagnostic accuracy of CT-guided percutaneous lung biopsy of lung nodules ≤ 1.5 cm is slightly lower than that of nodules > 1.5 cm. However, the diagnostic accuracy for malignancy is high in both groups, with a low risk of complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-363
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Lung Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009


  • Cytopathology
  • Fine-needle aspiration
  • Pneumothorax
  • Small nodule

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research


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