Positioning technology enables bronchoscopy to give 3D images of
complex lung structures
16 July 2008
A new type of bronchoscopy uses positioning technology to generate 3D
images of the far reaches of complex lung structures. Called
electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy, it is expected to help
pulmonologists better diagnose lung cancer, pneumonia and various
"This new technology allows us to see safely and clearly into those
deep regions of the lungs and diagnose exactly what's causing the
respiratory problem," said pulmonologist Dr Suneel Kumar of the
Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, where the technology is being used.
Chest x-rays can show peripheral lesions in the lungs of patients,
but only about half of those are accessible by traditional bronchoscopy,
which involves inserting a flexible catheter tube down the patient's
throat and into the lungs. Up to now, most lesions beyond the reach of a
standard bronchoscopy were further investigated with more invasive
procedures that had side effects some patients could not tolerate.
"This new technology allows us to more aggressively investigate the
origin of disease in the lungs with less impact on the patient," said
Presbyterian pulmonologist Dr Howard Mintz. "We're able to more
accurately diagnose the condition of the lung and, in turn, better care
for the patient."
The new system uses a steerable catheter that can also access and
biopsy lymph nodes that are near the bronchial tree or trachea.
"This technology has the potential to help us diagnose complex
problems of the lungs and thoracic cavity with a relatively simple
procedure," said pulmonologist Dr Gary Weinstein, Presbyterian's chief
of critical care medicine. "It's an example of technology truly
improving clinical care and reducing impact on the patient."
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for improving survival
rates in malignant lung disease. A recent study determined that lung
lesions diagnosed early resulted in a survival rate of 88% at 10 years.
Lung cancer patients diagnosed at Stage III or IV have survival rates
around 15% at five years.
"There's a big need for a reliable diagnostic tool that's minimally
invasive for patients but still provides quality analysis of tissue deep
in the lungs," Dr Kumar said. "This system is a major step in that