Lung cancer patients in Wales are benefitting from new technology which is capable of detecting and treating the disease in its early stages.
The procedure, known as Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB), uses technology similar to GPS to create a 3D map of the patient’s lungs, which then helps doctors guide a catheter through the lungs’ most complex and narrow airways.
The ENB system comprises four essential components:
- Hardware (computer, monitors and the electromagnetic board)
- A disposable guide catheter (this contains a location sensor at its tip and is capable of 360o steering)
- A disposable working channel (this extends beyond the reach of the bronchoscope and becomes a pathway for the lesion for subsequent diagnosis and treatment)
How it works
An ENB starts with the planning stage; this is where CT scans of the patient’s chest are loaded into proprietary software that reconstructs the patient’s airways into multiple 3D images.
The physician uses this 3D map of the organ to mark target locations and plan pathways to the intricate areas of the lungs.
Once the plan and route has been finalised, the physician navigates the steerable sensor probe and extended working channel to the desired target location(s). Once at the desired location, the physician locks the extended working channel in place and the steerable sensor probe is removed.
The extended working channel then provides access to the target lesion for standard bronchoscopy tools or catheters.
If an area of the lungs appears malignant, the physician can mark it for further treatment.
Take a look at how it works:
Compared to other methods for diagnosis, an ENB is a minimally-invasive procedure and allows doctors to diagnose and prepare treatment for cancerous lesions using a single procedure.
For years, doctors have proclaimed how difficult it is to get an early diagnosis for lung cancer, sometimes this is due to the location of the tumour in the patient’s chest.
With this new equipment, doctors can now detect lung cancer in its early stages, sometimes before other symptoms have become evident.
The advances in medical technology have continued to amaze us and this is another, in a long list of new tools, which will save thousands of lives.
We wonder what the next medical technology breakthrough will be?