This guideline is based on a comprehensive review of the literature on pulmonary nodules and expert opinion. Although the management pathway for the majority of nodules detected is straightforward it is sometimes more complex and this is helped by the inclusion of detailed and specific recommendations and the 4 management algorithms below. The Guideline Development Group (GDG) wanted to highlight the new research evidence which has led to significant changes in management recommendations from previously published guidelines. These include the use of two malignancy prediction calculators (section ‘Initial assessment of the probability of malignancy in pulmonary nodules’, algorithm 1) to better characterise risk of malignancy. There are recommendations for a higher nodule size threshold for follow-up (≥5 mm or ≥80 mm3) and a reduction of the follow-up period to 1 year for solid pulmonary nodules; both of these will reduce the number of follow-up CT scans (sections ‘Initial assessment of the probability of malignancy in pulmonary nodules’ and ‘Imaging follow-up’, algorithms 1 and 2). Volumetry is recommended as the preferred measurement method and there are recommendations for the management of nodules with extended volume doubling times (section ‘Imaging follow-up’, algorithm 2). Acknowledging the good prognosis of sub-solid nodules (SSNs), there are recommendations for less aggressive options for their management (section ‘Management of SSNs’, algorithm 3).
The guidelines provide more clarity in the use of further imaging, with ordinal scale reporting for PET-CT recommended to facilitate incorporation into risk models (section ‘Further imaging in management of pulmonary nodules’) and more clarity about the place of biopsy (section ‘Non-imaging tests and non-surgical biopsy’, algorithm 4). There are recommendations for the threshold for treatment without histological confirmation (sections ‘Surgical excision biopsy’ and ‘Non-surgical treatment without pathological confirmation of malignancy’, algorithm 4).
Finally, and possibly most importantly, there are evidence-based recommendations about the information that people need and which should be provided. This document is intended to be used both as a summary in the day to day management of a person with a pulmonary nodule and a comprehensive reference text.
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