Diagnosis and management of peripheral lung nodule
A solitary pulmonary nodule (SPN) is a well-defined radiographic opacity up to 3 cm in diameter that is surrounded by unaltered aerated lung. Frequently, it is an incidental finding on chest radiographs and chest CT scans. Determining the probability of malignancy is the first step in the evaluation of SPN. This can be done by looking at specific risk factors and the rate of radiographic progression. Subsequent management is guided by the type of the nodule. Patients with solid nodules and low pretest probability can be followed radiographically; those with high probability, who are good surgical candidates, can be referred for surgical resection. When the pretest probability is in the intermediate range additional testing such as biopsy should be done. Various modalities are now available to obtain tissue diagnosis. These modalities differ in their yield and complication rate. Patients with SPN should be well informed of each approach’s risks and benefits and should be able to make an informed decision regarding the different diagnostic and therapeutic modalities.