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Effect of Routine Clopidogrel Use on Bleeding Complications After Endobronchial Ultrasound-guided Fine Needle Aspiration

Webb, Tracey N., BS*; Flenaugh, Eric, MD; Martin, Ralitza, MD; Parks, Christopher, MD; Bechara, Rabih I., MD

Journal of Bronchology & Interventional Pulmonology: January 2019 - Volume 26 - Issue 1 - p 10–14
doi: 10.1097/LBR.0000000000000493
Original Investigations

Background: Endobronchial ultrasonography has proven to be highly sensitive and specific in the diagnoses of patients with mediastinal and hilar adenopathy. Many of these patients are on a combination of clopidogrel (a compound that inhibits adenosine diphosphate–induced platelet aggregation) and aspirin due to neurological and/or cardiac-related comorbidities, and stopping anticoagulation may place these patients at high risk for potential complications. Our group has previously showed that thoracentesis with an 8-french catheter is safe in patients receiving clopidogrel and aspirin with low risk of complications. In this manuscript, we report the outcomes of the largest prospective multicenter series of patients undergoing endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) while receiving clopidogrel.

Methods: Patients presenting to our institutions with mediastinal/hilar adenopathy, requiring EBUS-TBNA, and actively taking clopidogrel and aspirin were included in the study. If the medication could be held for 5 to 7 days before the procedure, the patient was excluded. EBUS-TBNA was performed by an interventional pulmonology faculty on a total of 42 patients. All patients received total intravenous anesthesia, and a total of 92 nodes were sampled. First, 3 passes were performed with a 22-G needle. If no complications were encountered, we followed with additional 3 passes with a 21 G. Rapid onsite evaluation was performed in all patients. Bleeding at the puncture site was considered significant if it required cold saline, topical sympathomimetic, or balloon tamponade for hemostasis. Bleeding was considered nonsignificant if no interventions were required to achieve hemostasis.

Results: We were able to perform all procedures successfully using both the 21 and 22-G needles. One patient required 30 mL cold saline installation to accomplish hemostasis with the 21 and 22-G needles. Our yield was comparable with the current literature. No statistically significant complications occurred during the procedure. All patients were contacted within 24 hours, and none reported bloody sputum.

Conclusion: We suggest that EBUS-TBNA, using 22 and 21-G needles, is safe with high yields in patients with mediastinal/hilar adenopathy, actively taking clopidogrel and aspirin, and are at high risk for thrombotic complications if the medication is discontinued.

*Emory University

Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA

Piedmont/MD Anderson Healthcare Network System, Houston, TX

Disclosure: There is no conflict of interest or other disclosures.

Reprints: Rabih I. Bechara, MD, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Newnan, GA 30265 (e-mail:

Received July 27, 2017

Accepted February 19, 2018

Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.