Entering a New Dimension of Care
An emerging field in pulmonary medicine called advanced diagnostic bronchoscopy is forging new pathways in the treatment of lung cancer. One of the newest technologies to emerge provides electromagnetic navigation and guidance to distant regions of the lungs in a minimally-invasive manner. This new system, called inReach and developed by SuperDimension, will enable physicians to locate, test and plan treatment for lung lesions and lymph nodes that are difficult to access with traditional bronchoscopy.
"We are always on the lookout for ways that we can diagnose and treat patients non-invasively, ways that we can spare surgery," says M. Douglas Mullins, MD. He and his colleagues are excited by the possibilities of the new system, not only in its ability to examine or sample the entire lung beyond the limited visual reach of the bronchoscope, but in other applications as well.
Much brainstorming took place at the Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion about how to use the inReach system to optimize the delivery of radiation.
"I was very excited about the possibility of placing fiducials into tumors with the inReach technology," says Dr. Mullins. Fiducials act as markers for a radiation oncologist to accurately pinpoint the delivery of radiation to a patient's tumor. But before the development of this technology, fiducials had to be placed with surgery or another invasive procedure.
"The SuperDimension system takes all the information from the patient's CT Scan and re-formats it into a three dimensional view of the patient's lungs," Dr. Mullins explains. "The 3-D view allows for precise navigation and perspective so that the target can be reached quickly and safely."
St. Joseph's/Candler is currently the only health system in the region to make this technology available to its patients. Not all patients are good candidates for this procedure, but Dr. Mullins is grateful that this technology has arrived for those who need it most.
"It's changed the way I think about the patient," he says. "It's allowed me to go beyond the conventional limits that we've had historically for diagnosing or treating lung cancer patients. There's no place in the chest we can't go."