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Most patients referred for lung biopsy have a focal lesion that is likely to be a carcinoma, and fine needle aspiration is usually sufficient to confirm the diagnosis. When non-carcinomatous disease is suspected, tissue architecture is important and potential diagnostic techniques include percutaneous cutting needle biopsy (CNB). We retrospectively reviewed 37 CNBs performed for clinically suspected non-carcinomatous disease; recording the biopsy result, final diagnosis, radiological nature of the pulmonary abnormality, distance from the pleura of the lesion biopsied and biopsy complications. 9 patients had a single pulmonary nodule/mass; 13 had multiple nodules/masses; 8 had a lobar consolidation/mass; and 7 had multifocal consolidation. The lesion abutted the pleura in 31 cases, lying within 1 cm in the other 6 cases. The minor complication rate was 14%, with no major complications. Specific malignant diagnoses were made in 9 patients, and specific benign in 23, in all of whom clinicoradiological follow-up was concordant. CNB did not yield a specific diagnosis in five patients, including two lymphomas and one case of unsuspected tuberculosis in which the sample was not cultured. The overall accuracy of CNB was 32/37 (86%). CNB is a safe and accurate means of achieving a tissue diagnosis for patients with peripheral pulmonary parenchymal disease thought not to represent carcinoma.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Radiol

Publication Date





349 - 355


Adenocarcinoma, Bronchiolo-Alveolar, Adult, Aged, Biopsy, Needle, Diagnosis, Differential, Female, Humans, Lung Diseases, Lung Neoplasms, Lymphoma, Male, Middle Aged, Radiography, Retrospective Studies