Article Abstract

The role of endobronchial ultrasound versus mediastinoscopy for non-small cell lung cancer

Authors: Katarzyna Czarnecka-Kujawa, Kazuhiro Yasufuku


This review provides an update on the current role of endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) and mediastinoscopy (Med) in assessment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Invasive mediastinal lymph node (LN) staging is the major application for both of these techniques. Up until recently, Med was the gold standard for invasive mediastinal LN staging in NSCLC. However, EBUS-TBNA has shown to be equivalent, and in some studies better than Med for invasive staging of lung cancer. EBUS-TBNA offers access to N1 LNs and development of the thin convex probe EBUS (TCP-EBUS) will expand EBUS-TBNA access from the paratracheal region and central airways to more distal parabronchial regions allowing for more extensive N1 LN assessment and sampling more distal lung tumors. EBUS-TBNA is more cost-effective than Med and it is currently recommended as the test of first choice for invasive mediastinal LN staging in lung cancer. Confirmatory Med should be performed selectively in patients with high pretest probability of metastatic disease. Addition of esophageal ultrasound fine needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) may increase diagnostic yield of EBUS-TBNA mediastinal staging. Both Med and EBUS-TBNA can be used in primary lung cancer diagnosis, restaging of the mediastinum following neoadjuvant therapy and in diagnosis of lung cancer recurrence. In the future, a combination of EBUS-TBNA with or without EUS-FNA and Med is most likely going to provide the most optimal invasive assessment of the mediastinum in patients with lung cancer. The decision on test choice and sequence should be made on a case-by-case basis and factoring in local resources and expertise.