Diagnostic value of thoracoscopic pleural biopsy for pleurisy under local anaesthesia

ANZ Journal of Surgery. 2006 Aug;76(8):722-4. [Link]

Motoki Sakuraba*, Kimihiko Masuda†, Akira Hebisawa‡, Yuzo Sagara*, and Hikotaro Komatsu*

Departments of *Thoracic Surgery, †Respiratory Medicine, and ‡Division of Pathology, National Hospital Organization Tokyo Hospital, Tokyo, Japan


Background: We find pleural effusion in clinical practice frequently. However, it is difficult to make a diagnosis definitively by thoracocentesis or closed pleural biopsy. We directly examine the thoracic cavity by thoracoscopy under local anaesthesia, carry out pleural biopsy and make a definitive pathological diagnosis in pleurisy.

Method: A retrospective study of 138 patients who had been diagnosed by thoracoscopy in our hospital was carried out between January 1995 and January 2005.

Results: The patients were 114 men and 24 women, ranging in age from 21 to 85 years, with a mean of 59 years. The right side was involved in 83 patients and the left side in 55. The operations took 11–145 min, with a mean of 46 min. Thoracoscopy directly without thoracocenteses was carried out in 28 of 138 patients. Lung cancer with pleural dissemination was diagnosed in 27, malignant pleural mesothelioma in 10, tuberculous pleurisy in 32, non-specific pleurisy in 58, other tumour in 2 and pyothorax in 9 patients. The overall diagnostic efficacy was 97.1% (134/138). The diagnostic efficacy in the cases of carcinoma was 92.6% (25/27), in malignant pleural mesothelioma it was 100% (10/10) and in tuberculosis it was 93.8% (30/32). No major complications occurred during the examination.

Conclusion: Pleural biopsy by thoracoscopy under local anaesthesia should be actively carried out in patients with pleurisy, because the technique has a high diagnostic rate and can be easily and safely carried out.