Metastatic spread to subcarinal lymph nodes in patients with bronchogenic carcinoma generally indicates unresectability. Transcarinal needle aspiration of the main carina (TCNA) has been used to obviate the need for more invasive procedures, particularly thoracic surgery. Of 510 transbronchial needle aspirations performed at our institution from 1983 to 1991, 88 (17 percent) were from the main carina in patients with bronchogenic carcinoma. We reviewed these 88 TCNA procedures to assess our experience with TCNA in the staging of lung cancer. The TCNA results were positive in 32 of 88 (36 percent) patients (20 non-small-cell cancers, 12 small-cell lung cancers). Following bronchoscopy, TCNA was the only evidence of unresectability in all 20 patients with non-small-cell lung cancer and was the only mode of diagnosis in 5 of 12 (42 percent) patients with small-cell lung cancer. Thirteen patients with non-small-cell lung cancer and positive TCNA also had positive bronchial secretion cytologic studies. Five of these patients had further subcarinal sampling and in all cases metastatic involvement was confirmed. TCNA was positive in 29 of 67 (43 percent) patients with radiographic evidence of mediastinal adenopathy. Of the remaining 38 patients with radiographic evidence of mediastinal adenopathy and negative TCNA results, 23 patients had further mediastinal sampling with mediastinoscopy or thoracotomy and in all cases mediastinal spread of cancer was established. Nineteen of 58 (33 percent) patients with an endoscopically normal-appearing main carina had a positive TCNA, while 13 of 30 (43 percent) patients with broadening or widening of the main carina had positive TCNA results. There were no complications. We conclude that TCNA is often a safe and useful staging modality in patients with bronchogenic carcinoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine