BACKGROUND: Mediastinoscopy is the gold standard for preoperative mediastinal staging of patients with suspected or proven lung cancer. Since the development of endoscopic ultrasound-guided biopsy via the trachea (EBUS-TBNA), this status has been challenged. The purpose of the study was to examine whether mediastinoscopy is necessary, when EBUS-TBNA is performed in a center with (1) a high level of expertise, (2) "bed side" microscopy by a pathologist, (3) general anesthesia, and (4) achievement of representative tissue from station 4R, 7 and 4L, that is, the same mediastinal stations that mediastinoscopy gives access to. METHODS: A total of 95 consecutive patients with known or suspected lung cancer were referred for staging by EBUS-TBNA, which was performed as described. RESULTS: Benign and malignant disease was found in the mediastinum of 6 and 13 patients, respectively. The remaining 76 patients were operated, resulting in 9 benign and 67 malignant diagnoses; spread was found to station 4R, 5, and 5 and 6 in 4 patients. The negative predictive value (NPV) was 63/67=0.94. However, if you exclude station 5 and 6, as they cannot be reached by neither EBUS nor mediastinoscopy, NPV was 66/67=0.99. The sensitivity was 0.76, and the specificity was 1.0. CONCLUSIONS: When EBUS-TBNA is performed under optimal conditions including general anesthesia and "bed side" microscopy performed by a pathologist resulting in representative biopsies from station 4R, 7, and 4L, the NPV is so high that mediastinoscopy seems unnecessary.
Journal of Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology, 2014, Vol 21, Issue 1, p. 21-25