The utility of open lung biopsy following lung transplantation

David Weill, David C. McGiffin, George L. Zorn, C. Bruce Alexander, Lesley J. Early, James K. Kirklin, K. Randall Young

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Most pulmonary complications associated with lung transplantation have non-specific clinical characteristics. Furthermore, common diagnostic modalities, including bronchoscopy with transbronchial biopsy (TBB), often do not render a definitive diagnosis. In this study, we reviewed our experience with open lung biopsy (OLB) following lung transplantation, specifically regarding its ability to safely provide clinically relevant information that affects therapeutic decisions. Methods: From October 1989 to March 2000, 202 patients underwent lung transplantation at our institution. We reviewed the clinical course of the 42 patients who received 48 OLBs. Of these patients, we determined the pre-operative clinical condition, preceding TBB histologic information, OLB histology, treatment changes, and procedural complications as a result of the OLB. Results: A new, clinically unsuspected diagnosis was made in 14 biopsies (29% of all OLB), and all of these resulted in therapy changes. Thirty-two biopsies (67% of all OLB) confirmed our clinical suspicions, and new therapy was initiated in 30 of these patients. Two patients (4% of all OLB) had non-diagnostic OLB. Four biopsies (8% of all OLB), including the 2 non-diagnostic OLBs, did not result in any therapy changes or initiation of new therapy. Complications occurred in 3 patients, all of whom had an air leak for >7 days. Conclusion: Open lung biopsy in lung transplant patients renders a new, unsuspected diagnosis in nearly one third of patients and leads to specific, directed therapy in the vast majority of patients. Open-lung biopsy can be performed safely and should be considered when diagnosis is uncertain in clinically deteriorating patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)852-857
Number of pages6
JournalThe Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2000
Externally publishedYes

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