During the last five years 140 biopsies of the lung or pleura have been performed with a high-speed air-drill. A specially designed trephine, 2·1 mm. in bore, proved effective in obtaining adequate specimens from patients with diffuse lung lesions. With this method 111 out of 119 (93%) consecutive lung biopsies were successful in producing specimens of lung tissue for histological examination and 101 (85%) of these biopsies were diagnostically significant. Conditions such as sarcoidosis, berylliosis, alveolar proteinosis, polyarteritis nodosa, asbestosis, and diffuse interstitial pulmonary fibrosis were conclusively diagnosed. Complications were not serious and the commonest, pneumothorax, which occurred in 26% of the lung biopsies, was usually asymptomatic. The procedure is rapid and painless and breath-holding is unnecessary. It is performed under local anaesthesia and can be repeated, if required, thus having many advantages over biopsy by open thoracotomy. However, full thoracic surgical cover should be available. Indications include diffuse and localized lesions of the lung or pleura where a definitive diagnosis is required for the purpose of treatment, prognosis, or a claim for industrial compensation.
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