4 years ago

Experience improves the performance of endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial biopsy for peripheral pulmonary lesions: A learning curve at a medical centre

Sheng-Yuan Ruan, Chong-Jen Yu, Chao-Chi Ho, Yi-Ju Tsai, Chun-Ta Huang

by Chun-Ta Huang, Sheng-Yuan Ruan, Yi-Ju Tsai, Chao-Chi Ho, Chong-Jen Yu


Endobronchial ultrasound(EBUS)-guided transbronchial biopsy(TBB) is the preferred diagnostic tool for peripheral pulmonary lesions(PPLs) and mastering this procedure is an important task in the training of chest physicians. Little has been published about the learning experience of physicians with this technique, particularly at an institutional level. We aimed to establish a learning curve for EBUS-guided TBB for PPLs at a medical center.


Between 2008 and 2015, consecutive patients with PPLs referred for EBUS-guided TBB at National Taiwan University Hospital were enrolled. To build the learning curve, the diagnostic yield of TBB (plus brushings and washings) was calculated and compared. Meanwhile, lesion characteristics, and procedure-related features and complications were obtained to analyze associations with TBB yield and safety profile.


A total of 2144 patients were included and EBUS-guided TBB was diagnostic for 1547(72%). The TBB yield was 64% in 2008 and reached a plateau of 72% after 2010. It took approximately 400 EBUS-guided procedures to achieve stable proficiency. Further analysis showed that improvement in diagnostic yield over time was mainly observed in PPLs, in cases in which the diameter was ≤2 cm or the EBUS probe could not be positioned within. Complication rates were low, with 1.8% and 0.5% for pneumothorax and hemorrhage, respectively.


Even though EBUS-guided TBB is an easy-to-learn technique, it takes 3 years or around 400 procedures for a medical center to achieve a better and stable performance. In particular, the diagnostic yield for lesions without the probe within or those sized ≤2 cm could improve with time.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179719

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