Article Abstract

Accuracy of rapid on-site evaluation of endobronchial ultrasound guided transbronchial needle aspirates by respiratory registrars in training and medical scientists compared to specialist pathologists—an initial pilot study

Authors: Emily Hopkins, David Moffat, Caroline Smith, Michelle Wong, Ian Parkinson, Walter Nespolon, Jennifer Buckseall, Madeline Hill, Hubertus Jersmann, Phan Nguyen


Background: Rapid on-site evaluation (ROSE) of endobronchial ultrasound guided transbronchial needle aspirates (EBUS-TBNA) increases diagnostic accuracy but in many institutions requires a specialist pathologist. This study aimed to determine if medical scientists or respiratory registrars could adequately perform ROSE to determine sufficiency of EBUS samples.
Methods: ROSE was performed on the first two EBUS-TBNA passes per patient by a pathologist, a medical scientist and two respiratory registrars. The medical scientists involved had all previously performed ROSE on over 50 procedures. The two respiratory registrars received cytology education from a pathologist in four separate hour-long training sessions. Each ROSE reviewer recorded whether each sample was sufficient or insufficient. Pathologist interpretation was taken as gold standard. Specific diagnosis was not required. Final diagnosis and the total number of passes were also recorded. This study recruited 25 patients (50 passes) for statistical evaluation.
Results: Assessment by specialist pathologists deemed 16/50 (32%) to be sufficient and 34/50 (68%) insufficient respectively. Medical scientists were 90% concordant with the pathologist (K =0.774; 95% CI, 0.587–0.961). The two respiratory registrars were 78% (K =0.568; 95% CI, 0.338–0.798) and 72% (K =0.448; 95% CI, 0.222–0.674) concordant, respectively. The mean number of passes per patient was 4.9 (range, 3–7). A diagnosis was established in 21/25 (82%) patients from the first EBUS-TBNA procedures with the remaining four patients requiring a further procedure or monitoring with serial CT scans to establish the diagnosis. Malignancy was found in 14/25 (56%) patients and a benign process in 11/25 (44%) patients.
Conclusions: Medical scientist review of ROSE samples is not significantly different to a specialist pathologist and is an acceptable alternative. Respiratory registrars are not a realistic alternative for ROSE without more intensive training, which may be difficult to facilitate in addition to existing respiratory training commitments.