New Technology Uses GPS-like System to Reach Lung Lesions


A three-dimensional virtual "roadmap” of the lungs guides doctors like a GPS (Global Positioning System)

People with hard to reach lung lesions may be able to receive a diagnosis sooner, thanks to a new advanced navigation technology.  Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women in the United States; however, if caught early (stage 1), the chance of cure is 60-70%.

The technology, called the inReach™ System, by superDimension, provides electromagnetic navigation and guidance to distant regions of the lungs in a minimally-invasive manner, enabling physicians to locate, test and plan treatment for lung lesions and lymph nodes that are difficult to access with traditional bronchoscopy. 

"A traditional bronchoscopy can only reach lesions in the main bronchial tubes, whereas the inReach system can reach the smaller branches of the lung, where cancers often begin,” said Dr. Gary Guidry, pulmonologist and medical director of the LGMC ICU.   "There is no comparison between a procedure that can only reach 20 - 30% of lung lesions, to this new procedure that can reach about 70% of lung lesions. Because the system is minimally-invasive, it enables us to safely diagnose patients whose medical conditions don’t allow us to perform higher-risk surgical procedures.”  

Similar to Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, the inReach System provides a three-dimensional virtual "roadmap” of the lungs, generated from CT images.  Once the patient’s lungs have been mapped, physicians use inReach guiding catheters with standard bronchoscopes to reach the targeted lesion.

"We have a pathologist standing by to give a diagnosis right away,” added Guidry. "That’s a huge benefit to a patient who needs an immediate answer on whether their lung mass is cancer, and we can reduce the number of unnecessary surgeries on benign lesions. Plus, with the bronchoscope in place, we can either place fiducials for later radiation therapy like CyberKnife or ‘tattoo’ the mass with a special dye to mark for later surgery.” 

Currently, patients experiencing symptoms of lung disease or those who have suspected lesions can be examined and treated with standard bronchoscopes, needle aspiration, or surgery.  By providing electromagnetic navigation, the inReach System increases the chances that a patient will safely get a diagnosis and begin treatment. And, not only does inReach allow access to lesions that the bronchoscope cannot reach, it also enables cancer staging in the lymph nodes.

Lafayette General Medical Center is one of the first hospitals in Louisiana to make this technology available to its patients.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer-related death in American men and the second most common in women, claiming more lives than breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer combined. According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2007 alone, more than 200,000 Americans were diagnosed with lung cancer, and only 16 percent will live another five years. Earlier diagnosis and treatment may increase the chance that patients live longer.  The inReach System has the potential to help reduce the mortality rate for lung cancer by helping physicians diagnose and recommend treatment for the disease in its early stages.

About the superDimension inReach System
The innovation of the inReach System rests in its creation of a three-dimensional lung image and real-time navigation to masses on that image. During a planning phase, a physician uses a pre-acquired CT scan to prepare a three-dimensional map of the lungs using the inReach software, which is used to mark the target lesion(s). During the procedure, an electromagnetic localization system tracks the real-time position of a unique set of catheters (navigation catheter and guide catheter) on the pre-planned three-dimensional map and assists the physician in the guidance to the target lesion area in the lungs. The navigation catheter is then removed and the guide catheter provides a channel for diagnostic or therapeutic tools.

About Lafayette General Medical Center
Lafayette General Medical was founded in 1911 as a community not-for-profit hospital serving Lafayette Parish and the surrounding communities. The current location in the Oil Center, originally built in 1963, is in the midst of a $75 million total renovation project. Lafayette General Medical Center is a full-service, acute care hospital employing over 1800 employees, making it the 4th largest employer in Lafayette with an annual payroll in excess of $80 million.

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