Routine neck ultrasound by respiratory physicians in the diagnosis and staging of patients with lung cancer and mediastinal lymphadenopathy: a prospective pilot study.
Core critical care ultrasound
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JournalERJ open research
AbstractIntroduction: Cervical lymphadenopathy in lung cancer indicates advanced disease. The presence of mediastinal lymphadenopathy is commonly associated with involvement of neck lymph nodes and some studies suggest routine neck ultrasound (NUS) in this group of patients. We conducted a two-phase study looking at training a respiratory physician to perform ultrasound-guided neck lymph node aspiration in patients with suspected lung cancer. Methods: In the first phase of the study, one of the authors underwent training in NUS according to predetermined criteria. The adequacy of sampling was prospectively recorded. In the second phase, consecutive patients with suspected lung cancer and mediastinal lymphadenopathy underwent NUS and sampling of abnormal lymph nodes. The outcomes were the adequacy of samples for pathological analysis and molecular analysis, prevalence of cervical lymphadenopathy, and change in stage. Results: Following the period of training, 35 patients underwent neck node sampling with an overall adequacy of 88.6% (95% CI 78.1-99.1%). Cervical lymph node involvement was confirmed in 13 out of 30 patients with lung cancer (43.3%, 95% CI 25.5-62.6%). Further immunohistochemistry and molecular studies were possible in all patients when it was required (nine cases). NUS led to nodal upstaging in four out of 30 (13.3%) cases. Conclusion: Training a respiratory physician to perform NUS and needle sampling to an acceptable level is feasible. Benefits of embedding this procedure in lung cancer diagnosis and pathway staging need to be explored in further studies.