Ultrasound-Guided Phrenic Nerve Block for Lung Nodule Biopsy: Single-Center Initial Experience

Christopher D. Czaplicki, Nan Zhang, M. Grace Knuttinen, Sailendra G. Naidu, Indravadan J. Patel, J. Scott Kriegshauser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale and Objectives: Biopsy of lung nodules in the lower lung fields can be difficult because of breathing motion. Ipsilateral phrenic nerve block (PNB) before biopsy should make the biopsy safer, easier, and more precisely targeted. We describe the use of ultrasound-guided PNB before lung nodule biopsy, including relevant anatomy and variations, complications, and technique, along with our first 40 cases. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively reviewed patients who underwent PNB before computed tomography (CT)- or ultrasound-guided lung nodule biopsy from April 2015 through March 2020. Patient demographics, CT fluoroscopy time, radiation dose, complications, diagnostic yield, and effectiveness of PNB were recorded. Effectiveness of PNB was based on direct observation of diaphragmatic motion. Control group data for biopsies during the same time frame were collected and matched with nodules ≤1 cm from the PNB group. Results: Among 40 patients identified, no complications occurred related to the PNB. Mean (SD) nodule size was 12.4 (6.2) mm. True-positive results were obtained in 39 patients (98%), with 1 false-negative after an ineffective PNB. PNB was effective in 70%. When CT fluoroscopy was used for the biopsy, radiation dose was significantly lower after an effective PNB than an ineffective PNB (p < .001). Effective PNB was significantly more common with injection of ≥4 mL of local anesthetic (p = .01). Comparison with 19 matched controls showed significantly fewer instances of pneumothorax (p = .02) and greater diagnostic success (p = .03) for the PNB group. Conclusion: Ultrasound-guided PNB is safe and effective and can improve outcomes when used before lung nodule biopsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S118-S126
JournalAcademic radiology
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • biopsy
  • nerve block
  • phrenic nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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