Small Pulmonary Lesions: A Challenge for Thoracic Surgery?
We analyzed the diagnosis, the potentially associated external and clinical features, and the surgical procedures of small pulmonary lesions, especially hamartomas (in relation to peripheral T1 lung carcinomas and lymphoid hyperplasia) in 103 patients who experienced enucleation or resection of pulmonary hamartomas between March 1, 1995 and December 31, 2000. The causes of surgical intervention, presurgical diagnoses, surgical procedures, location, size, and histological compartments were analyzed, as well as clinical features potentially associated with the tumors (alcohol, asbestos, smoking, and chronic lung diseases). Follow up of patients lasted for 5.5 years at maximum. For comparison, 36 patients with peripheral T1 lung carcinomas are included as well as 50 patients with lymphoid hyperplasia. The sex and age distribution of the patients with hamartomas was comparable to that of patients with lymphoid hyperplasia. About 75% of men and 55% of women were heavy smokers, with an average history of 30 and 17 pack years, respectively. In 84% of patients, the lesions were incidentally detected in chest radiographs, whereas 12% of patients underwent thoracic surgery suspicious for intrapulmonary metastases of known extrapulmonary malignancies. Enucleation was performed in 21%, and wedge resection in 77% of patients. At average, hamartomas were smaller than T1 lung carcinomas, but considerably larger in comparison to lymphoid hyperplasia. No recurrent tumors or additionally detected hamartomas were noted during the follow up, and both surgical procedures (enucleation or wedge resection) were identical in curative treatment. All patients with peripherally localized T1 tumors underwent lobectomy. The 3/5 year survival rate was calculated to 69/52%. Lymphoid hyperplasia is of clinical importance for the estimation of prognosis in patients with metastatic disease, as the number of radiologically suggestive metastatic nodules can often be significantly changed due to this entity. Pulmonary hamartomas are benign lesions that display certain clinical associations with malignant lung carcinomas in respect to external risk factors, and to lymphoid hyperplasia. Both surgical procedures (enucleation or wedge resection) can be performed, giving identical results in respect to treatment.