The nodule in the emphysematous lung: an appeal for surgery in a lung volume reduction concept

Background: Emphysema patients, who are candidates for lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) usually present with an extensive smoking history and thus have an increased risk for lung. The incidence of pulmonary nodules in emphysematous lungs is high. We therefore aimed to analyse the incidence and histological findings of pulmonary nodules in our LVRS program.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of all patients who underwent LVRS between 2016 and 2018. Data concerning preoperative workup, 30 days mortality and histopathological findings analysed.

Results: Between 2016 and 2018, LVRS was performed in 66 patients. In 18 (27%) a nodule was found in the preoperative computed tomography (CT) scan. Histological findings revealed in two cases squamous cell lung cancer. In two other cases, histopathological findings revealed an anthracotic intrapulmonary lymph node. In eight cases, a tuberculoma was found with a positive culture in one case. The other six histopathological findings were hamartoma, granuloma or sequelae of pneumonia.

Conclusions: Malignancy was found in 11.1% of patients presenting with a nodule in preoperative LVRS workup. The relative risk of lung cancer in emphysema patients is increased and if LVRS criteria are fulfilled surgical resection of a pulmonary nodule is a meaningful way to verify the histology.


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