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The Impact of an Interventional Pulmonary Program on Nontherapeutic Lung Resections

Polcz, Monica E. MD*; Maiga, Amelia W. MD, MPH*,†; Brown, Lawrence B. MHS; Deppen, Stephen A. PhD*,†; Montgomery, Chandler BS§; Rickman, Otis DO*; Grogan, Eric L. MD, MPH, FACS*,†

Journal of Bronchology & Interventional Pulmonology: October 2019 - Volume 26 - Issue 4 - p 287–289
doi: 10.1097/LBR.0000000000000592
Research Letters

Background: Pulmonary resection can concurrently diagnose and treat known or suspected lung cancer, but is not without risk. Benign resection rates range widely (9% to 40%). We evaluated the impact of an Interventional Pulmonology (IP) program and dedicated Pulmonary Nodule Clinic on surgical benign resection rates at a single institution.

Methods: An IP program was initiated in August 2010 that offered advanced diagnostic techniques and a dedicated Pulmonary Nodule Clinic was opened in August 2013. We retrospectively reviewed all patients who underwent resection for known or suspected lung cancer between 2005 and 2015 at our tertiary referral hospital. Demographics, preoperative tissue diagnoses, surgical procedure, final pathology, and staging were collected. Quarterly benign resection rates were calculated and plotted on a statistical quality control chart (P-Chart) to determine the impact of the IP program and Pulmonary Nodule Clinic on benign resection rates over time.

Results: Of 1112 resections, 209 (19%) were benign. Variation in quarterly benign resection rates decreased after introduction of the IP program in 2010, and a significant (P<0.05) sustained decrease in the quarterly benign resection rate occurred after introduction of the pulmonary nodule clinic in 2013 to a new baseline of 12% compared with 24% before 2010. After introduction of the IP program, mean quarterly preoperative tissue diagnostic rates increased from 45% to 58% (P<0.01).

Conclusion: Integration of an IP program employing advanced diagnostic bronchoscopic techniques has improved preoperative diagnostic rates of suspicious pulmonary nodules and in combination with a pulmonary nodule clinic has resulted in fewer benign resections.

*Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Veterans Affairs-Tennessee Valley Healthcare System

Meharry Medical College

§Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

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

Reprints: Eric L. Grogan, MD, MPH, FACS, Department of Thoracic Surgery, 609 Oxford House, 1313 21st Ave. South, Nashville, TN 37232 (e-mail:

Received October 29, 2018

Accepted March 4, 2019

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