lung procedure
Dr. Carlos Anciano, director of minimally invasive thoracic surgery at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, left, and Dr. Mark R. Bowling, director of interventional pulmonology for Brody, were the world's first to use a new CrossCountry™ device for lung biopsy at Vidant Medical Center's East Carolina Heart Institute. (Photo by Gretchen Baugh)

ECU physicians first in the world to use new device in lung procedure

Sept. 17, 2015

ECU News Services
About Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States. In 1987, it surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Lung cancer causes more deaths than the next four most common cancers combined (colon, breast, prostate and pancreatic).

The American Cancer Society estimates that 159,260 Americans are expected to die from lung cancer in 2014, accounting for approximately 27 percent of all cancer deaths.

That said, finding the disease early drastically improves survival rates. Early stage lung cancer that is detected, diagnosed and immediately treated has survival rates up to 88 percent compared to current 15 percent survival rates for late stage lung cancer patients.

However this falls to just 1 percent when lung cancer is diagnosed at Stage 4, when it has spread to other areas of the body.

In North Carolina alone, the American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 8,000 people will be diagnosed with lung or bronchus cancer this year and that 5,700 will die of the disease.

East Carolina University physicians Drs. Mark R. Bowling and Carlos Anciano were the first in the world to use a new lung biopsy device that will help patients get earlier diagnoses and undergo fewer invasive procedures.

Medtronic, an internationally known medical technology and services company, selected ECU teaching hospital Vidant Medical Center for the first use of the CrossCountry™device (FDA approved), which creates easier access to tumors outside of the airway by allowing the physician to navigate a small pathway from the airway to the tumor.

“We were thrilled to be chosen by Medtronic to be the first to use the device,” said Bowling, director of interventional pulmonology for the Brody School of Medicine at ECU.

Last month at Vidant Medical Center’s East Carolina Heart Institute, Bowling and Anciano, director of minimally invasive thoracic surgery at Brody, used the device to biopsy – remove a tissue sample from – a lung mass far removed from the patient’s central airway.

The procedure confirmed the patient’s lung mass was benign, and the patient was able to return home the same day. The physicians said the new device prevented the patient from having to undergo an invasive surgical procedure.

Bowling explained that traditional bronchoscopy – wherein a practitioner inserts a small tube through a patient’s nose or mouth to examine the airway – is a common and effective way to investigate lung abnormalities, but it is limited in that it can only reach the most central airway of the lung.

As part of a comprehensive thoracic oncology program, Vidant has invested in innovative technologies like the superDimension™ Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy™. It is like a “GPS” for the lungs and helps guide biopsy tools to access areas of the lung that are difficult to reach with general bronchoscopic techniques, Bowling explained.

“We have a state-of-the-art hybrid operating room, and we do more navigational bronchoscopy procedures than most centers in the country,” he said. “We have performed more than 750 procedures in just under four years and are one of only a few centers in the world that have access to two of these navigational systems.”

A hybrid OR is an operating room equipped with a sophisticated imaging system that allows physicians to perform minimally invasive cardiac and vascular procedures with greater precision than ever before. Using a piece of equipment commonly referred to as a C-arm, physicians can take pictures all the way around a person’s body. This three-dimensional view allows the entire care team to work with extreme accuracy when performing cardiac and vascular procedures.

“The use of these technologies is part of our multispecialty approach to lung disease,” said Anciano. “They represent not just a novel approach in the field of lung cancer, but a stepping stone towards less invasive treatment. They expand our ability to deploy future bronchoscopic and incision-less tools to manage this unrelenting disease.

“Hopes are high that having all of these technologies in place will allow us to diagnose and treat this disease earlier,” he added. “Every day, more than 400 people die of lung cancer in the United States. That is more than the next five cancers lumped together.”