Magnets detect lung cancer

A novel non-surgical technique could boost early lung cancer diagnosis, say French scientists.

Magnets detect lung cancer
Magnets detect lung cancer

Electromagnetic navigation during bronchoscopy (EGB) involves navigation using an electro-magnetic tracking system, which could detect lung lesions by pursuing a catheter  through a bronchoscope.

Information obtained through bronchoscopy is superimposed on to a previously obtained computed tomography (CT) scan.

This technique could be a useful way to identify small peripheral lung lesions (SPLL).

The overall diagnostic yield of the technique was found to be over 60 per cent. In comparison, bronchoscopy alone identifies less than 30 per cent of SPLL.

The latest study involved 40 patients who had SPLL but were considered unsuitable for straightforward surgery or CT-guided thoracic needle aspiration biopsy because of comorbidities.

Patients had lung lesions measuring an average 2.3cm in diameter and 1.5cm in depth.

All but one of the lesions were reached using EGB and the diagnostic yield was 62.5 per cent, the researchers reported.

Outcome was best when CT-to-body convergence - a measure of data registration accuracy - was small. When it was smaller than 4mm the diagnostic yield was 77.2 per cent. But better software is needed to ensure navigational accuracy before the EGB is applied in clinical practice.

Eur Respir J 2007; 1,187-92

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