The usefulness of transesophageal echocardiography in the staging of locally advanced lung cancer
AbstractBackground. The pre-operative staging of locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is an important clinical and radiological issue. Computed tomography (CT) scan cannot always provide sufficient information about resectability and some patients may undergo unnecessary thoracotomy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) in distinguishing T3 from T4 lesions in patients with lung cancer possibly involving cardiovascular structures and to compare its findings with those of computed tomography and, whenever possible, of surgical samples. Methods. Between January 1998 and December 2001, sixteen patients were referred to our pulmonology unit for evaluation of locally advanced NSCLC possibly involving the heart or great vessels. All patients underwent mediastinal staging with both contrast enhancement CT scan and TEE. Results. The mediastinal staging by CT scan classified eleven patients as T4N0M0 and five patients as T3N0M0. TEE suggested mediastinal extension of the tumour in nine out of sixteen patients, who were eventually classified as T4; the remaining seven patients had no mediastinal involvement according to TEE and were therefore classified as T3. The pathologic staging confirmed clinical TEE staging in all of the ten patients who subsequently underwent surgery. The remaining six patients were excluded from surgery either because of major coexistent illnesses or because refused to be operated on. Conclusion. TEE is a useful diagnostic tool in the staging of patients with locally advanced NSCLC which suspect involvement of heart and/or great vessels.
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