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ENB: New Way to Navigate the Lungs: October 8, 2012

Imagine taking a virtual tour through the lungs. Doctors now have a tool that will lead them to tiny tumors, which might be cancerous.

“Something very special about this equipment is that before the procedure we are able to plan a pathway to lead to the mass. The software makes us a 3D map, where we can see the inside of the lungs and the lung cube and the bronchi,” says Dr. Sunil Lalla, a pulmonologist with Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

Lung cancer remains one of the most lethal of cancers. It’s usually diagnosed in late stages. The electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy or ENB will make it easier to find the smallest abnormalities earlier.

“We are going to identify where these spots are, are they malignant or not so we can try to catch them early enough for treatment,” says Dr. Lalla.

Still a form of bronchoscopy, this new equipment gives the doctors the ability to locate, biopsy and if need be, mark the lesion for treatment.

Delivered via catheter through the mouth or nose, the ENB takes the place of a needle biopsy. It’s less invasive with fewer risks.

“With the needle biopsy the risk of pneumothorax can be up to 25%. Pneumothorax is a collapse of the lung where the needle is introduced from outside the lung,” says Dr. Lalla.

Performed at Lee Memorial Health System’s outpatient surgery center, professionals can make a speedy diagnosis.

“We have an on-site pathologist, so we can have the answer within 15 minutes,” says Dr. Lalla. 

In cases of cancer, the site is marked for radiation.

“Doctors then pick out these markers and only radiate that portion of the lung that has cancer and not damage the good portion of the lung,” says Dr. Lalla.

Navigating the lungs like never before, ENB is adding a new dimension to diagnosing and treating cancer.