Transbronchial needle aspirations vs. percutaneous needle aspirations

Stefano Gasparini, Martina Bonifazi, Ko Pen Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Over the last decade, the increasing diffusion of innovative and more powerful imaging guided techniques has further broadened the bronchoscopist's horizons in the diagnostic work-up of peripheral pulmonary nodules/masses (PPN/M). However, in most of institutions worldwide, due to the lack of resources and specific skills, the routinely diagnostic approach to PPN/M is still represented by imagingguided transbronchial needle aspirations (TBNA) and percutaneous needle aspirations (PCNA). So far, no randomized clinical trials directly comparing the accuracy of the two procedures are available, and a standardized strategy that defines the proper role of each technique has yet to be established. In fact, the choice between these procedures is mostly influenced by "environmental" factors, such as operator's experience and local resources, rather than by an established algorithm, based on selected clinical scenarios. Data from literature indirectly suggest a higher sensitivity of PCNA compared to transbronchial approach, especially when lesions are peripheral and less than 2 cm. On the other hand, the transbronchial approach has been shown to have a better safety profile. Moreover, it offers the advantages to provide, during a single examination, a pathological diagnosis of nodules, information on mediastinal staging and airways involvement, and to identify potential synchronous lesions. In this context, it would be reasonable to firstly perform flexible bronchoscopy with TBNA, and, in case of inconclusive results, PCNA. In conclusions, both the techniques have been shown to be useful in the diagnostic pre-operative work-up of PPN/M. In order to optimize the diagnostic yield and to minimize the risk of patients they should not to be considered as two alternative options, but, rather, as two complementary techniques integrated in a standardized algorithm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S300-S303
JournalJournal of Thoracic Disease
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Accuracy
  • Percutaneous needle aspirations (PCNA)
  • Peripheral nodules/masses
  • Safety
  • Transbronchial needle aspirations (TBNA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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