Vascular and Interventional Radiology

Factors Influencing Pneumothorax Rate at Lung Biopsy: Are Dwell Time and Angle of Pleural Puncture Contributing Factors?

PURPOSE: To study factors that may influence pneumothorax and chest tube placement rate, especially needle dwell time and pleural puncture angle.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In 159 patients, 160 coaxial computed tomography (CT)-guided lung biopsies were performed. Dwell time, the time between pleural puncture and needle removal, was calculated. The smallest angle of the needle with the pleura (“needle-pleural angle”) was measured. These and other variables were correlated with pneumothorax and chest tube rates.

RESULTS: One hundred fifty biopsies were included. There were 58 (39%) pneumothoraces (14 noted only at CT), with eight (5%) biopsies resulting in chest tube placement. Longer dwell times (mean, 29 minutes; range, 12–66 minutes) did not correlate with pneumothoraces (P = .81). Smaller needle-pleural angles (80°), decreased forced expiratory volume in 1 second to vital capacity ratio (<50%), lateral pleural puncture, and lesions along fissures were associated with lower pneumothorax rates (P < .05). Emphysema along the needle path, pulmonary function tests showing ventilatory obstruction, and lesions along fissures predisposed patients to chest tube placement (P < .05). Pleural thickening and prior surgery were associated with lower pneumothorax rates (P < .05).

CONCLUSION: Longer dwell times do not correlate with pneumothorax and should not influence the decision to obtain more biopsy samples. A shallow pleural puncture angle may increase the pneumothorax rate.


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Article History

Published in print: Feb 2001