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Ultrasound-Guided versus Thoracoscopic Pleural Biopsy for Diagnosing Tuberculous Pleurisy Following Inconclusive Thoracentesis: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

Xiaoyu Zhou, Peng Jiang, Xia Huan, Wei Li, Yuqing Chen, Hua Gao, Xueyuan Qi, Jing Wu, Xiaojing Wang, Yurong Ou, Xianjie Jia

(Department of Respiratory Medicine, First Affiliated Hospital of Bengbu Medical College, Bengbu, Anhui, China (mainland))

Med Sci Monit 2018; 24:7238-7248

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.912506

BACKGROUND: Traditional diagnostic methods for tuberculosis (TB) cannot be reliably applied to tuberculous pleurisy. Therefore, this prospective, randomized, controlled trial was performed to compare the diagnostic sensitivity and safety of ultrasound-guided cutting-needle pleural biopsy versus thoracoscopic pleural biopsy in patients suspected of tuberculous pleurisy following inconclusive thoracentesis.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: A total of 196 adult patients with acid-fast bacillus (AFB)-negative exudative pleural effusions clinically suspected of tuberculous pleurisy were recruited. Enrollees were randomized into 2 cohorts: ultrasound-guided cutting-needle pleural biopsy (n=96) or thoracoscopic pleural biopsy (n=96). The overall diagnostic yields, diagnostic sensitivities for tuberculous pleurisy, and post-procedural complications for both cohorts were statistically compared.
RESULTS: Ultrasound-guided pleural biopsy displayed an overall diagnostic yield of 83%, while thorascopic pleural biopsy displayed a similar overall diagnostic yield of 86% (χ²=1.88, df=1, p=0.17). There were 127 patients conclusively diagnosed with tuberculous pleurisy, resulting in a tuberculous pleurisy prevalence of 65% in this patient population (66% in the ultrasound cohort vs. 63% in the thoracoscopy cohort; p>0.05). Ultrasound-guided pleural biopsy displayed a sensitivity of 82% in detecting tuberculous pleurisy, while thorascopic pleural biopsy displayed a similar sensitivity of 90% (χ²=1.05, df=1, p=0.30). The sensitivities of these 2 modalities did not significantly differ based on the degree of pleural thickening (p>0.05). Post-procedural complications were minor.
CONCLUSIONS: Ultrasound-guided and thoracoscopic pleural biopsy both display strong (>80%) but statistically similar overall diagnostic yields for diagnosing pleural effusions following inconclusive thoracentesis. Both modalities also display strong (>80%) but statistically similar sensitivities in detecting tuberculous pleurisy.

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