Endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration in the diagnosis of mediastinal masses of unknown origin

Marc F Catalano, Mark L Rosenblatt, Amitabh Chak, Michael V Sivak, James Scheiman, Frank Gress
American Journal of Gastroenterology 2002, 97 (10): 2559-65

OBJECTIVES: The ability of endosonography to diagnose a variety of gastrointestinal pathology has been significantly advanced with the introduction of endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) biopsy. EUS-FNA technology can also be applied to the evaluation of non-GI disorders. The role of EUS-FNA to establish the diagnosis of unexplained mediastinal masses has not been previously described. The aim of this study was to determine the diagnostic accuracy, impact on subsequent workup, and role of EUS-FNA in treating mediastinal masses of unknown cause.

METHODS: A total of 26 patients (15 men and 11 women, mean age 61 yr, range 39-77 yr) underwent EUS-FNA in patients presenting with unexplained mediastinal masses at four tertiary referral centers. Presenting symptoms included: chest pain (10 patients), dysphagia (eight), cough (seven), fever (six), night sweats (three), and no symptoms/abnormal x-ray (five patients). Five of 26 patients had prior history of cancer (three lung, one tracheal, and one esophageal).

RESULTS: Final diagnosis using EUS-FNA, surgery, autopsy, other diagnostic study, or long-term follow-up was available in all patients. EUS-FNA results were classified under three disease categories: 1) infectious, 2) benign/ inflammatory, and 3) malignant. Final diagnosis included infectious in five patents, benign/inflammatory in nine, and malignant in 12. EUS-FNA was successful in 21 of 26 patients (81%) for all disease categories (infectious 60%, benign/inflammatory 78%, and malignant 92%). EUS-FNA was successful in directing subsequent workup in 77% (20 of 26) and therapy in 73% (19 of 26). Mean EUS-FNA passes for adequate tissue sampling was lower of nonmalignant disease categories (3.0 and 3.4) versus malignant disease (4.4). No complications were seen during the course of this study.

CONCLUSIONS: EUS-FNA in patients presenting with idiopathic mediastinal masses establishes the diagnosis in the vast majority of cases, particularly for those with malignant disease. The emergence of transesophageal EUS-FNA of the mediastinum provides the ability to alter subsequent workup and therapy, obviating the need for more invasive diagnostic studies such as thoracotomy.

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