New Medical Technology Spotlight Presented by Florida Hospital East Orlando.
With more than 220,000 Americans diagnosed with lung cancer every year, it has become the deadliest cancer of all. In the past, one of the major issues was that there wasn’t a widely accepted screening procedure for early stage lung cancer. That is, until now.
Dr. Stephen Vu, pulmonologist with Florida Hospital East Orlando, is helping to lead the way with endobronchial ulstrasounds (EBUS) in the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer and other lung abnormalities. In previous years many lung cancer diagnosis often came too late, with nearly 60 percent of patients dying within the first year of learning they had the disease. Screenings and advancements — like EBUS — have helped specialists detect lung cancer in its early stages and save lives.
As one of the first physicians in the state to utilize EBUS to detect early signs of problems, Vu has quickly become the go-to expert regarding the minimally invasive procedure. Florida Hospital East Orlando has been there with him at every step, performing the most EBUS procedures in Central Florida, on their way to cementing themselves as a leader in this field.
Proven to be highly effective already, EBUS allows specialists to perform a technique called transbronchial needle aspiration. Essentially, the procedure allows the physician to obtain tissue or fluid samples from the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes without conventional surgery, making the process much less painful to the patient, while being just as effective as the more invasive procedure which requires a small incision in the neck.
The samples obtained during the procedure can then be used for diagnosing and staging lung cancer such as lymphoma, identifying certain diseases that can affect the lungs and detecting various infections.
Using a miniature ultrasonic probe technology, the EBUS procedure results in a 360-degree image of the smallest bronchial airways and even beyond the bronchial wall. The technology allows for a highly accurate, precise method to gain adequate biopsies with minimal disturbance to healthy lung tissue.
“The process allows for real-time imaging of the airways, blood vessels, lungs and lymph nodes, allowing me to easily view difficult-to-reach areas and access more lymph nodes than the traditional methods of the past,” says Vu. “The success rate of achieving a diagnosis with EBUS is equivalent to, and in many cases, superior to the former method, and much less intensive on top of that.”
“Patients will also be glad to know that the procedure is typically done under moderate sedation and they can recover quickly, generally returning home the same day,” he says. He adds that patients who have undergone the procedure generally do well and offer no major complaints, other than mild throat soreness immediately following the procedure.
According to Vu, another of the EBUS’ largest advantages is the accuracy and speed at which the procedure can be done, allowing pathologists to examine biopsy samples as they are obtained. They can even request additional samples to be taken immediately if need be. “Although the procedure has been available for almost 10 years, it has only become the procedure of choice for minimally invasive lung biopsies in the last three or four years. It is certainly a vital tool in the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer.”
Above all, Vu says that detection is the most important thing in regards to treating lung cancer. “It’s a devastating disease and it remains the number one cause of cancer deaths among men and women,” he says. “While treatment can be potentially curative, it is important that the diagnosis be made early and accurately to provide the most chance for relief.”
Article by Corey Gehrold