Diagnostic yield and safety of navigation bronchoscopy: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Stephan E.P. Kops*, Pauline Heus, Daniël A. Korevaar, Johanna A.A. Damen, Demy L. Idema, Roel L.J. Verhoeven, Jouke T. Annema, Lotty Hooft, Erik H.F.M. van der Heijden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Navigation bronchoscopy has seen rapid development in the past decade in terms of new navigation techniques and multi-modality approaches utilizing different techniques and tools. This systematic review analyses the diagnostic yield and safety of navigation bronchoscopy for the diagnosis of peripheral pulmonary nodules suspected of lung cancer. Methods: An extensive search was performed in Embase, Medline and Cochrane CENTRAL in May 2022. Eligible studies used cone-beam CT-guided navigation (CBCT), electromagnetic navigation (EMN), robotic navigation (RB) or virtual bronchoscopy (VB) as the primary navigation technique. Primary outcomes were diagnostic yield and adverse events. Quality of studies was assessed using QUADAS-2. Random effects meta-analysis was performed, with subgroup analyses for different navigation techniques, newer versus older techniques, nodule size, publication year, and strictness of diagnostic yield definition. Explorative analyses of subgroups reported by studies was performed for nodule size and bronchus sign. Results: A total of 95 studies (n = 10,381 patients; n = 10,682 nodules) were included. The majority (n = 63; 66.3%) had high risk of bias or applicability concerns in at least one QUADAS-2 domain. Summary diagnostic yield was 70.9% (95%-CI 68.4%-73.2%). Overall pneumothorax rate was 2.5%. Newer navigation techniques using advanced imaging and/or robotics (CBCT, RB, tomosynthesis guided EMN; n = 24 studies) had a statistically significant higher diagnostic yield compared to longer established techniques (EMN, VB; n = 82 studies): 77.5% (95%-CI 74.7%-80.1%) vs 68.8% (95%-CI 65.9%-71.6%) (p < 0.001). Explorative subgroup analyses showed that larger nodule size and bronchus sign presence were associated with a statistically significant higher diagnostic yield. Other subgroup analyses showed no significant differences. Conclusion: Navigation bronchoscopy is a safe procedure, with the potential for high diagnostic yield, in particular using newer techniques such as RB, CBCT and tomosynthesis-guided EMN. Studies showed a large amount of heterogeneity, making comparisons difficult. Standardized definitions for outcomes with relevant clinical context will improve future comparability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107196
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalLung Cancer
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Cone beam CT
  • Lung cancer
  • Navigation bronchoscopy
  • Pulmonary nodules
  • Robotic bronchoscopy


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