What is EBUS TBNA?
Endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS TBNA) is a relatively new and highly effective outpatient procedure performed at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) to:
- Diagnose and stage lung cancer
- Evaluate pulmonary nodules
- Detect lung infections
- Identify other diseases that can affect the lungs or cause enlarged lymph nodes or masses in the chest
It is a minimally invasive way to get tissue samples for biopsy — without creating too much discomfort for you and without the need for surgery.
How is EBUS TBNA done?
Your doctor inserts a special bronchoscope (a long, narrow, fiberoptic, lighted tube) through your mouth and trachea (windpipe) into your bronchi (the two main airways that branch off your trachea).
The bronchoscope is fitted with an ultrasound processor and a fine-gauge aspiration needle.
- An ultrasound monitor displays real-time images of your airways, blood vessels, lungs and nearby lymph nodes to guide your doctor.
- Your doctor pushes the needle through your bronchial wall from inside to take samples of cells from lymph nodes or other tissues in the area between your lungs (mediastinum).
- The samples can be examined to diagnose lung cancer or other diseases.
What makes EBUS TBNA different?
The conventional surgical way to get samples from your mediastinum is to make a small incision in your neck just above or next to your breastbone. Then your doctor inserts a narrow scope (mediastinoscope) through the incision to see your lungs and surrounding lymph nodes and obtain a tissue sample.
With EBUS TBNA, no incisions are needed. The images from the ultrasound allow your doctor to view difficult-to-reach areas and to access more, and smaller, lymph nodes than they could with a conventional mediastinoscopy.