Two BayCare hospitals – Morton Plant and St. Anthony’s – are using GPS-like technology to help locate and biopsy lung tumors potentially leading to improved diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.
Called Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy, the procedure helps physicians navigate the lungs by combining GPS-like technology with a catheter-based system to access lesions on the lung that can be hard to reach.
“ENB extends the reach of the bronchoscope to regions deep within the lung,” said John Masson, M.D., in a press release. Masson is a Morton Plant Hospital pulmonogist. “We can then find smaller lung lesions located deep in the lung for diagnostic testing and potential treatment without making an incision in the chest.”
Typically a patient with a spot on their lung has the options of major surgery to remove a section of the lung, bronchoscopy (which does not reach lesions deep in the lung), needle biopsy or watchful waiting.
The lung navigation creates a 3D reconstruction of the lungs and creates a “map,” allowing the physician to find lesions that previously would have been difficult to reach and treat.
“Ideally, we can reach smaller lesions earlier and with a less invasive procedure,” said St. Anthony’s Hospital pulmonologist Dr. Vinny Samuel. “This means we can find lung cancer in the early stages, thereby giving patients a better opportunity for curative treatment.”
Most patients treated with the lung navigation technology go home the same day with minimal discomfort.