Role of fine-needle aspirates of focal lung lesions in patients with hematologic malignancies

Philip W. Wong, Tihomer Štefanec, Karen Brown, Dorothy A. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Objectives: To evaluate the yield and safety of transthoracic fine-needle aspiration (FNA) in the diagnosis of pulmonary disease in patients with hematologic malignancy. Design: Retrospective chart review. Setting: Tertiary-care medical center. Patients: Sixty-seven patients with a hematologic malignancy or after bone marrow transplantation (BMT) for a hematologic malignancy who underwent a total of 71 FNAs for diagnosis of an unexplained parenchymal lung lesion from January 1, 1991, to June 30, 1999. Results: The underlying malignancy was lymphoma in 42 patients (63%), leukemia in 8 patients (12%), after allogeneic BMT in 12 patients (18%), after autologous BMT in 3 patients (4%), and other diseases in 2 patients. Radiographs showed focal abnormalities in all cases, and were nodules in 37%, masses in 37%, focal infiltrates in 21%, and cavitary lesions in 5%. The yield of FNA for a finding specific infection or cancer was 56% (40 of 71 FNAs). The FNA with inflammatory changes was clinically sufficient in another 11 patients for a total yield of 72% (51 of 71 FNAs). The yield for lung cancer was 90% (9 of 10 FNAs), for pulmonary lymphoma was 68% (21 of 31 FNAs), and for infection was 67% (10 of 15 FNAs). Complications occurred in 18 of 71 FNAs (25%), with pneumothorax in 14 patients (20%) and chest tube placement required in 4 patients (6%). Bleeding occurred in six patients (8%), including one death in a patient with abnormal hematologic parameters. Conclusion: Transthoracic FNA in patients with hematologic malignancy and focal lung lesions has an excellent yield for detecting cancer and a yield comparable to bronchoscopy for the diagnosis of infections. It should be considered a useful diagnostic tool in this setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-532
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Fine-needle lung aspirate
  • Immunocompromised patient
  • Invasive radiology
  • Lung cancer
  • Transthoracic needle aspiration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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