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Columbia St. Mary's uses latest technology to provide earliest possible detection of lung cancer

Learning you have a lesion deep in your lung that requires a biopsy can be hard to process and emotionally challenging. There are many options to discuss with your physician when choosing a lung biopsy procedure. In addition to standard procedures like a needle biopsy, which results in a collapsed lung 25 percent of the time, or traditional bronchoscopy, which can only reach a small portion of the lung, Columbia St. Mary’s now offers a minimally invasive procedure called an Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB) using a technology called the iLogic™ Inreach System. This system allows physicians to reach and diagnosis lesions deep in the lungs by way of electromagnetic navigation technology with minimal trauma to the patient. This procedure is becoming the new standard for the early detection of lung cancer.

In January 2010, Columbia St. Mary's Foundation played an instrumental role in the purchase of this important technology making Columbia St. Mary's the first hospital in the metro-Milwaukee area to use it.

 Dr. Burak Gurses, a nationally known interventional pulmonologist.
Dr. Burak Gurses, interventional pulmonologist, pictured with the iLogic Inreach System.

In addition to being the state’s only hospital in the National Cancer Institute’s Community-based Cancer Center Program, CSM prides itself in having recruited Dr. Burak Gurses, an interventional pulmonologist, who received his training at Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore, among the world’s leading hospital programs for the diagnosis and treatment of complicated lung conditions. Dr. Gurses, in collaboration with Dr. Daryl Pearlstein, a thoracic surgeon from the Medical College of Wisconsin practicing almost exclusively at Columbia St. Mary's, has established a multidisciplinary thoracic cancer clinic at the Cancer Center.

“I’m very proud to start using this in the Milwaukee area at Columbia St. Mary’s,” said Dr. Gurses. “This is a tremendous contribution to the multidisciplinary thoracic cancer clinic because it will most likely result in detecting more early stage lung cancers that could potentially be cured.”

How ENB benefits the patient
As the incidence of lung disease grows in the United States—lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, killing more than 161,000 Americans each year—the challenge of early and accurate diagnosis and treatment of lung lesions is critical to improving survival rates in malignant lung disease.

A recent study determined that lung lesions diagnosed early (Stage I) resulted in a survival rate of 88 percent at 10 years. Compare this to lung cancer patients diagnosed at Stage III or IV where survival rates typically are 15 percent at five years.

 An Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB) uses iLogic Inreach System technology to extend the reach of conventional bronchoscopes.

An Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB) uses iLogic Inreach System technology to extend the reach of conventional bronchoscopes.

As the first technology to make a minimally invasive biopsy possible anywhere in the lungs, ENB allows for the earliest possible detection of lung cancer through the patient’s airways. Similar to a Global Positioning System, the technology of the iLogic System navigates to a mass deep in the lungs. The electromagnetic system guides and steers the unique catheters through complex airways so physicians can take tissue samples in distant regions of the lungs that are not reachable with traditional bronchoscopy.

“Lung cancers are the top killers of all the cancers and we were unable to diagnose them early enough to cure,” said Dr. Gurses. “With this machine, we can make the diagnosis early and get the patient to surgery quickly.”

The ENB procedure usually takes less than an hour with the patient under conscious sedation, and nearly all patients will go home the day of the procedure, without an overnight hospital stay. More importantly, the complications of the ENB are not more than the traditional bronchoscopy, less than those of radiation treatment, and less than thoracic surgery. With ENB the risk of pneumothorax, a collapsed lung, drops to only five to eight percent. That’s four times less than other procedures.

According to Dr. Gurses, the iLogic System is a valuable tool because it will also help numerous patients who have abnormal chest x-rays. By providing an accurate diagnosis, if it is not cancer, further unnecessary procedures can be avoided.


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