NAPLES, Fla. — The head of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at NCH Healthcare System says one unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic is that doctors are seeing more cases of lung cancer at more advanced stages. NCH has a unique piece of technology to help diagnose, biopsy, and remove lesions on the lungs.
"We were the third organization in the state of Florida to start computer-aided navigation," Dr. David Lindner, the Subdivision Head of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at NCH, said. "If you're thinking 'Wow, what the heck is that?' Well, that's where literally we make a 3D animation of a person's lung, we synchronize that to the x-ray and the animation."
He said the next thing you know, you're able to pinpoint the tiniest lesion in the lung in the most minimally invasive way.
"In the lung, you have this pesky thing called the rib cage, right? So obviously you don't want to cut open and spread apart the ribs. That's the most painful part," he said.
Dr. Lindner explained how the Medtronic Illumisite tool works. First, a patient gets an x-ray that may show a nodule on his or her lungs. That patient may also get a CT Scan or other imaging to get a more detailed picture.
"That picture of the person's lung is taken into a computer. It recreates essentially a three-dimensional animation of the lung," Dr. Lindner said. "We put a green dot on the spot that we have to get to."
That image is then synchronized to what the doctors see when they go in and do a laproscopic procedure using a camera and instruments to get to that nodule. Dr. Lindner said one of the best parts about this technology is that it takes into account movement of the lungs and rib cage.
"Remember, unfortunately I'm hitting a moving target. Obviously a person has to breathe. The lung is constantly in motion, so you have to correct for all that motion," he said.