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Transbronchial cryobiopsy safe, effective for characterizing small airway diseases

16 Jul 2020

Transbronchial cryobiopsy offers an accurate and minimally invasive method of characterizing small airway diseases, a recent study has found.

Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of 23 patients (mean age, 54.2 years; 14 females) who had been diagnosed with bronchiolitis using cryobiopsy. Upon primary bronchiolitis section, 10 patients showed evidence of cellular bronchiolitis. Five of these were postinfectious cases, while the remaining were cases of follicular bronchiolitis.

Other diagnoses delivered included Sjogren’s disease, constrictive bronchiolitis, smoking-related interstitial lung disease, sarcoid with granulomatous bronchiolar disorder, and subacute hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Bronchiolitis, or small airway diseases, is a heterogenous group of conditions, usually manifesting with nonspecific symptoms including coughs, fevers, and dyspnoea. Definitive diagnoses typically require a combination of clinical, histological, and radiological examinations.

The present study showed that “the histological information from cryobiopsy specimens allowed an appropriate diagnosis of cellular, respiratory, and follicular bronchiolitis, as well as constrictive bronchiolitis,” the researchers said, adding that cryobiopsy may also hold value for the diagnosis of preneoplastic conditions such as diffuse idiopathic pulmonary neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia.

Notably, this approach is also largely safe, with only two participants developing pneumothorax after the procedure. This resulted in an incidence rate of 8.7 percent. Both were managed with the insertion of a chest tube, and no other complications were observed.

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