Late Breaking News
Interventional Pulmonology Seeks Better Outcomes for Lung Patients
This reduces risk, time and possibly cost to the hospital. Considering that the patients benefiting from this technique tend to be older and have other comorbidities, the less time they spend in surgery, the less chance of complications.
Another advanced diagnostic tool being used at MEDVAMC is electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy (EMN), a system which allows physicians to better navigate through airways and obtain samples from small peripheral lung nodules they otherwise could not reach.
A third of patients with lung cancer will develop obstructions at some point, and a third of these patients will die from that. Other cancers can spread to the airways or compress the airways from the outside. For treating these patients, the IP clinic can choose from several therapeutic bronchoscopic procedures.
“In the last couple of years, we have assembled an interventional bronchoscopy suite with the highest available technology in the field,” Casal said. “And we have a dedicated general anesthesia team, which allows us to perform any procedure without using the [general] OR. With a combination of techniques, we can remove the endoluminal component of any tumor that invades the central airways. We also have the capability of placing any kind of airway stent. This allows us to better customize the treatment to each one of our patients.”
Casal has received extensive training in several techniques, some of which are argon plasma coagulation (applying heat by electronic current) cryotherapy (freezing the cancerous tissue), microdebrider (using rotating blades to cut the tumor), LASER bronchoscopy (using a laser on the tumor). Casal can use one or a combination of these techniques on a patient, depending on the circumstances.
“Before the establishment of our IP service, most patients with central airway obstructions were either treated with radiation therapy, continued to receive chemotherapy, were considered hospice care patients or were referred to an outside facility, typically MD Anderson Cancer Center,” Casal said. “The effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy for this condition is low, since most patients have already failed to respond.”
In the last two years, Casal and his colleagues have performed 120 therapeutic bronchoscopies at MEDVAMC. Casal noted that the impact of therapeutic bronchoscopy on patient survival is unknown, but there is no doubt it is successful in improving patients’ quality of life.
The services the IP clinic provides are still relatively unknown to the rest of the field, however.
“The main problem I face is the lack of awareness about our service and about the possibility of helping these patients with central airway obstruction,” Casal said. “Unfortunately, I am getting many of these patients when it is already too late.”
Related Pulmonary Diseases Articles
- Male Veterans with COPD At High Risk of Bone Disease
- New Research Suggests Dust Could Be Critical Factor in Respiratory Disease Among Deployed Troops
- Interventional Pulmonology Seeks Better Outcomes for Lung Patients
- VA Patients More Likely to Suffer Sleep Apnea, Have More Treatment Options
- Harsh Environment in Southwest Asia - Not Just Burn Pits - Cause Health Problems in Troops
- Inconclusive Report Does Little to Cool Down Burn Pit Controversy
- 1918 Flu Virus Circulated Silently Before Becoming Killer
- Congressional Testimony Fuels Debate on Deployment-Related Respiratory Disease