A thoracic surgery clinic dedicated to indeterminate pulmonary nodules: Too many scans and too little pathology?

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Objective: Widespread application of computed tomographic scans has increased detection of asymptomatic pulmonary nodules. A dedicated clinic was established to encourage referral and manage large numbers of patients with such nodules. Methods: Patients were evaluated periodically by a nurse practitioner with surgeon oversight, and follow-up imaging was centralized. Patients were rescanned at intervals on the basis of radiologist recommendation. Results: A total of 414 patients, 189 male and 225 female with a median age of 60.2 years (20.7-84.1 years), were evaluated since April 2000. Median follow-up was 1.51 years (0-6.65 years). Thirty-seven percent (153/414) were older than 60 years with at least 10 pack-years of tobacco use, whereas 30% (123/414) had never smoked. A total of 286 patients completed at least 2 years of follow-up computed tomographic evaluation. After 2 years, 24.2% (69/286) were deemed in stable condition and were discharged from further follow-up, whereas 22.4% (64/286) of patients were followed up longer than 2 years owing to the development of new nodules. Forty-five percent (127/286) of patients did not complete their recommended follow-up at our clinic. Overall, 3% (13/414) of our patients have been shown to have a malignant tumor. Only 5 patients underwent curative resection of a primary lung cancer. Conclusion: In a population of patients with indeterminate nodules in routine clinical practice, few patients required intervention and few cancers were detected. Although the benefits of a "nodule" clinic may include patient reassurance and convenience to referring physicians, a significant number of patients did not complete their follow-up in our clinic. © 2009 The American Association for Thoracic Surgery.




Veeramachaneni, N. K., Crabtree, T. D., Kreisel, D., Zoole, J. B., Musick, J. F., Taylor, N. G., … Meyers, B. F. (2009). A thoracic surgery clinic dedicated to indeterminate pulmonary nodules: Too many scans and too little pathology? Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, 137(1), 30–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcvs.2008.09.011

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