J Korean Med Sci.  2020 Jul;35(28):e261. 10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e261.

Efficacy and Cost-effectiveness of Surgical Biopsy for Histologic Diagnosis of Indeterminate Nodules Suspected for Early Stage Lung Cancer: Comparison with Percutaneous Needle Biopsy

  • 1Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 3Cancer Research Institute, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea


Indeterminate pulmonary nodules (IPN) suspected for early stage lung cancer mandate accurate diagnosis. Both percutaneous needle biopsy (PCNB) and surgical biopsy (SB) are valuable options. The present study aimed to compare the efficacy and cost-effectiveness between PCNB and SB for IPN suspected for early stage lung cancer.
During January–November 2018, patients who underwent operation for IPN suspected for early stage lung cancer (SB group, n = 245) or operation after PCNB (PCNB group, n = 113) were included. Patient-level cost data were extracted from medical bills from the institution. Propensity score matching was performed between the two groups from a retrospectively-collected database.
Fifteen patients (11.5%) had complications after PCNB; thirteen (11.5%) were not confirmed to have lung cancer through PCNB but underwent operation for IPN. In SB group, 172 (70.2%) and 7 (2.9%) patients underwent wedge resection and segmentectomy for SB, respectively; 66 patients (26.9%) underwent direct lobectomy without SB. After propensity score matching, 58 paired samples were produced. Most patients in PCNB group were admitted twice (n = 55, 94.8%). The average hospital stay was longer in PCNB group (12.9 ± 5.3 vs. 7.3 ± 3.0, P < 0.001). Though the cost of the operation was comparable (USD 12,509 ± 2,909 vs. 12,669 ± 3,334; P = 0.782), the total cost was higher for PCNB group (USD 14,403 ± 3,085 vs. 12,669 ± 3,334; P = 0.006). The average subcategory cost, which increases proportional to hospital stay, was higher in PCNB group, whereas the cost of operation and surgical materials were comparable between the two groups.
Lung cancer operation following SB for IPN was associated with lesser cost, shorter hospital stays, and lesser admission time than lung cancer operation after PCNB. The increased cost and longer hospital stay appear largely related to the admission for PCNB.


Percutaneous Needle Biopsy; Surgical Biopsy; Lung Cancer; Cost-effectiveness
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