New Outpatient Procedure at Texas Health Southwest Helps Diagnose, Stage Lung Cancer Without Surgery|
FORT WORTH, Texas — Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. — taking more lives than than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined.
Diagnosing and staging the disease traditionally involves surgical procedures to examine the lymph nodes in the upper chest area. But an emerging outpatient diagnostic technique called endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) is allowing pulmonologists at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Southwest Fort Worth to diagnose and determine the stage of lung cancers without making a single incision.
“The greatest advantage of EBUS technology is that its accuracy helps us diagnose and stage disease non-surgically,” said David Maldonado, M.D., a pulmonologist on the hospital’s medical staff who routinely uses the technique. “Patients avoid the trauma and inconvenience of surgery.”
For cancer patients, accurately staging the disease is essential to planning the most effective treatment and increasing chances for survival. The preciseness of EBUS helps prevent patients from receiving an unnecessary surgery or a less aggressive treatment.
Additionally, the risk for complications during a biopsy is greatly reduced, since the ultrasound allows pulmonologists to directly visualize the areas of interest and avoid puncturing large blood vessels in the chest.
“Before endobronchial ultrasounds, you had to estimate where the tumor or abnormal lymph nodes are located,” Maldonado said. “With this technology, you can see exactly where your instrument is so that appropriate biopsies are performed safely and typically with diagnostic results.”
During the outpatient procedure, the patient is lightly sedated and a flexible scope is placed through the mouth and down the windpipe to provide images of the airways. With the use of EBUS, the blood vessels, lymph nodes, and lung masses can be easily visualized.
If a suspicious area is found, a hollow needle guided by ultrasound images can be inserted through the scope for a biopsy. The outpatient procedure is typically completed in less than 45 minutes.
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