New Lung Cancer Diagnostic, Treatment Technologies Are Minimally Invasive - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on October 30, 2015

New Lung Cancer Diagnostic, Treatment Technologies Are Minimally Invasive

Crozer-Keystone Health SystemMedia Contact:
Mary Wascavage
(610) 284-8619

Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB)

New technologies allow your doctor to examine
your lower respiratory tract with
lower risk, less invasive procedures.

Technology is always advancing and improving our lives. That’s especially true when it comes to diagnosing and treating lung cancer and lung diseases.

Early detection and treatment of lung cancer are key for decreasing the number of lung cancer deaths. Before any treatments can start, your doctor needs to look for cancerous cells and rule out other conditions. One way this is done is with a tissue sample or biopsy, which involves your doctor taking a sample of abnormal cells from your lungs.

Previously, the primary way doctors were performing biopsies on abnormal lung cells was through a bronchoscopy. This procedure allows your doctor to examine your lower respiratory tract through a bronchoscope – a long, narrow, fiber optic, lighted tube inserted through the nose or mouth. The doctor is able to see your voice box and windpipe as well as bronchi, the large airways to the lungs, and the bronchioles, which are smaller branches of the bronchi.

With this procedure, your doctor can examine any abnormal areas of your lungs. But technology has made this process less invasive, thanks to two new procedures: Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) and Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB).

Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) is a minimally invasive tool used in the diagnosis, staging and treatment of lung cancer and other diseases of the chest. It’s an outpatient procedure that typically doesn’t require surgical incisions.

EBUS uses a bronchoscope with a small ultrasound probe, which is inserted through the mouth. Rather than making any incisions, biopsies can be taken in this procedure through a fine needle that is inserted through the airway wall, targeting the tissue containing abnormal cells. Before this technology, the biopsy was taken via an incision in the neck, with a special scope with a camera being placed in the chest – a procedure called mediastinoscopy.

While mediastinoscopy is effective, it is invasive and carries a potential risk. EBUS is a minimally invasive alternative to this procedure.

The same rings true for Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB).

In the past, patients who had lesions deep in their lungs had to undergo invasive procedures in order to access and biopsy them. Some of the procedures include a trans-thoracic needle biopsy, which goes through the chest wall, or a surgery to remove a sample of lung tissue. These generally require an inpatient stay and carry a higher risk for complications.

Instead, ENB is a minimally-invasive procedure that locates lung lesions deep in the lung that can’t be seen or reached with a conventional bronchoscopy. Surgeons use a set of thin, flexible catheters through the mouth to reach the lesions and remove cells and tissue samples for a biopsy. This procedure involves an electromagnetic system, which is GPS-like navigation technology, to guide and steer the catheters through your airways in the lungs. ENB lasts about 30 minutes to an hour with most patients going home the very same day.

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