A high speed pneumatic drill was used to perform 190 percutaneous transthoracic biopsies in 161 patients. The resultant cores of tissue provided a definite diagnosis in 146 patients, giving a success rate of 90.7%. Complications occurred in 58 patients, subcutaneous emphysema being the most common, though only seven patients required active treatment, giving a rate of 3.7% for important complications. One patient died within 24 hours of the biopsy procedure owing to asphyxia resulting from aspiration of the contents of an acutely dilated stomach. Our experience clearly establishes that the drill biopsy as used by us is simple and safe and can be carried out in an outpatient department, yielding better overall results than any other procedure for closed biopsy of the lung currently practised.
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