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Detecting Lung Cancer Sooner with Navigational Bronchoscopy

  • Category: News
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  • Written By: Rhonda Alfred
Detecting Lung Cancer Sooner with Navigational Bronchoscopy

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths in the state of Louisiana. When lung cancer is detected, it is vital to obtain diagnostic and staging procedures as quickly as possible and then coordinate care amongst multiple specialties. Dr. Andrea Lorio, Pulmonologist and Critical Care Specialist at Terrebonne General Pulmonology Care stresses the importance of quickly implementing a comprehensive patient care plan. “We know that every patient is unique. Terrebonne General has a multidisciplinary team of Pulmonologists, Thoracic Surgeons, Radiologists, Pathologists and Oncologists who come together every week for our Lung Tumor Board meeting to develop an individualized care plan for each patient, so that they can get the timely and coordinated care they deserve.”

Bronchoscopy gives physicians a direct view into the lungs to identify tumors, inflammatory changes, and infections. During the procedure a thin, flexible camera is passed through the mouth or nose into the airways of the lungs. According to Dr. Lorio, “Navigational bronchoscopy extends the diagnostic capabilities beyond that of a traditional bronchoscope, allowing your physician to biopsy locations that would otherwise be inaccessible.” Navigational bronchoscopy combines electromagnetic navigation with real-time computed tomography (CT) images to create a three-dimensional road map of the lungs. Physicians are then able to use this map to guide the navigational tools through the bronchoscope, to peripheral areas of the lungs for biopsy or to place markers to help guide radiation therapy and surgical planning.

Terrebonne General Pulmonology Care also offers endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) which utilizes ultrasound technology built into a special bronchoscope. This technology allows the physician to see through the walls of the airways and to directly guide a needle biopsy into surrounding structures. EBUS is used to biopsy tumors and lymph nodes that reside outside of the airway. According to pulmonologist, Dr. Navin Kumar Durairajan, “Both EBUS and navigation bronchoscopy procedures are performed on an outpatient basis. Patients can usually go home the same day, with recovery typically less than one day.”

Beyond bringing new technology to the Bayou community, navigational bronchoscopy and EBUS have direct impacts on patient care and outcomes. According to Dr. Durairajan, “Navigation bronchoscopy is often performed in conjunction with EBUS to achieve simultaneous diagnosis and staging in the same procedure. In the setting of lung cancer, this translates to faster diagnosis and treatment planning.” Traditionally many patients with lung tumors undergo separate tumor biopsy procedures and EBUS staging procedures, which could add weeks between initial identification of a tumor and treatment. In addition, risk of complications for lung biopsy are significantly lower with a navigational bronchoscopy when compared other methods of biopsy.

Terrebonne General Pulmonology Care consists of Dr. Andrea Lorio, Dr. Ralph Bourgeois, Dr. Navin Kumar Durairajan, and Dr. Ugochukwu Ezema. Their clinic is located in the Medical Atrium at Terrebonne General. A physician referral is required for an appointment and can be made by calling 985-850-6090.