Answers Through Biopsies
Complications in your respiratory system, such as trouble breathing, a long-term cough or instances of bleeding, could be the result of lung disease, infections, cancer or other conditions. To help provide you with an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan, doctors will look for spots or lesions on your lungs using a CT scan or X-ray. If a lesion is visible, your doctor may recommend a lung biopsy.
Lung biopsies involve the removal of tissue from your lung that doctors can examine more closely. The tissue can help doctors:
- Diagnose lung conditions, including infections or diseases
- Find the source of unexplained fluid in the lung
- Examine masses that formed on the lung and determine if it’s cancerous
- Assess the spread of cancer
Lung Biopsy Methods
Depending on the area of your lung your doctor intends to biopsy, they can perform either traditional or minimally invasive procedures.
Needle biopsies involve puncturing the chest wall with a long needle to take samples of lung tissue. The doctor guides the needle to the intended area using imagery assistance from CT scans or ultrasounds. This procedure allows your doctor to biopsy outer areas of the lung that are difficult to reach.
A traditional bronchoscopy is a common procedure that uses minimally invasive techniques to examine your lungs and take biopsies. Doctors perform this procedure by inserting a long, flexible tube, called a bronchoscope, into your mouth or nose and guiding it through your airway until it reaches the lungs. Once there, the bronchoscope can take samples of lung tissue. Traditional bronchoscopy is generally restricted to the central areas of the lungs near the airways.
Advanced Technology Provides Another Option
Lesions don’t always form in easily accessible areas of the lung. At Palmdale Regional Medical Center, your doctor may recommend an Electromagnetic Navigational Bronchoscopy™ (ENB) procedure that uses minimally invasive techniques and navigation technology known as superDimension™ to reach parts of the outer lung. ENB offer patients an alternative to open-incision or needle procedures.
How It Works — Your doctor will first take a CT scan of your chest and load the image into the LungGPS™ system, creating a virtual roadmap of your lungs. With the roadmap in place, your doctor will insert the bronchoscope into your mouth and down your airway, following a clear pathway towards distant regions of the lung. After your doctor reaches the area, they’ll use the bronchoscope to collect tissue samples that can be used to provide a proper diagnosis of your condition.
Next Steps — On average the ENB procedure is complete within an hour, allowing your doctor to run diagnostic tests quicker compared to other invasive methods. The sooner you receive a diagnosis, the earlier you’ll receive treatment for your condition. Based on the results of the biopsy, your pulmonologist may recommend further testing and treatment from an oncologist or thoracic surgeon.