GPS-like Technology Targets Trouble Deep in the Lungs

Abnormal findings or lesions in the lung may be caused by infection, inflammation or cancer. However, if they're found on a traditional X-Ray or CT Scan, doctors can't always make a diagnosis. Further testing is needed to identify the cause of the problems. Bronchoscopy is a pulmonary procedure where physicians examine the major air passages of the lungs through a thin, lighted tube called a bronchoscope. Doctors use bronchoscopies to evaluate the lungs and collect small tissue samples - or biospsies - to diagnose lung disease and lung cancer.

"The lung cancer team at Jupiter Medical Center specializes in the most advanced, minimally invasive bronchoscopy techniques," says Kenneth Fuquay, MD, a board-certified pulmonologist. He and his colleague, Rogelio Choy, MD, are able to offer patients many benefits thanks to these sophisticated techniques. "We are able to minimize the risks of more invasive dagnostic surgeries."

Navigational Bronchoscopy

A traditional bronchoscopy can’t reach deep into the lungs, where nearly 2/3 of all lung lesions are. Navigational bronchoscopy works in a similar fashion to the Global Positioning System (GPS) in your car. A CT scanner creates a 3-D image of the lungs, and the physician maps a route to the lesions. While the patient is anesthetized, a bronchoscope with electromagnetic sensors is moved down into the airways of the lungs. The instruments feature 360-degree steering, and the sensors allow the physician to track the bronchoscope's exact location.

Once the target lesions are reached, tiny surgical instruments are passed through the bronchoscope to collect a biopsy from the lesion for testing and diagnosis. “Navigational bronchoscopy is minimally invasive compared to percutaneous lung biopsy procedures. (A percutaneous biopsy is a biopsy that is obtained by putting a needle through the skin in order to obtain tissue for examination). It also requires less time for recovery and can be done on an outpatient basis,” adds Maung Kyaw Oo, MD, a board-certified pulmonologist and medical director of pulmonary rehabilitation at Jupiter Medical Center.

  • This procedure is used to:
  • Find and biopsy suspicious masses
  • Suction excess fluid or mucus from the airway or chest
  • Control bleeding in the airway
  • Treat tumors in the airway
  • Place airway stents
  • Place catheters in vital areas of the lungs