What is the role of lung biopsies in the diagnosis of cor pulmonale?

Updated: Dec 15, 2017
  • Author: Derek Leong, MD; Chief Editor: Henry H Ooi, MD, MRCPI  more...
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Lung biopsy may occasionally be indicated to determine the etiology of underlying lung disease. This is especially true if interstitial lung disease (ILD) is the suspected etiology for pulmonary hypertension resulting in cor pulmonale.

ILD encompasses a broad range of diagnoses, including but not limited to exposure-related causes (eg, asbestosis, silicosis), complications of connective tissue disorders (eg, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma), and idiopathic pneumonia (eg, usual interstitial pneumonia, acute interstitial pneumonia, nonspecific interstitial pneumonia, cryptogenic organizing pneumonia).

Typically, laboratory tests, pulmonary function tests, and imaging studies, including high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scanning, are performed before proceeding to invasive lung biopsy. Lung biopsy can sometimes be important in determining prognosis and management, depending on the diagnosis obtained via pathology. Biopsies can be obtained with the use of transbronchial biopsy, thoracotomy, or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS).

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