• Navigational Bronchoscopy


  • Navigational Bronchoscopy
  • Bronchoscopy is a pulmonary procedure that enables a physician to examine the major air passages of the lungs through a thin lighted tube called a bronchoscope. This allows the physician to evaluate the lungs and collect small tissue samples – or biopsies – to diagnose lung disease and lung cancer.

    Traditional bronchoscopy cannot reliably reach the distant regions of the lung. Often, more invasive surgical procedures are needed to make a diagnosis. This can increase the risk of complications for patients.

    inReach™ electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy at Bristol Regional

    When an abnormal finding or lesion in a distant part of the lung has been found on an X-ray, CT-Scan or PET-CT Scan, it may be caused by infection, inflammation or cancer.

    The inReach System by superDimension offers a minimally invasive technology that allows pulmonary physicians at Bristol Regional Medical Center to take tissue samples from the lung earlier and potentially more safely than traditional bronchoscopy. It is also an option for patients who suffer from poor lung function and are not candidates for other more invasive surgical diagnostic procedures. Earlier diagnosis of lung cancer improves cure and survival rates.

    Bristol Regional is the only medical facility in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia offering inReach electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy.

    What are the benefits of electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy?

    Electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy provides the ability to detect lung cancer and lung disease earlier, even before symptoms are evident, enhancing treatment options for patients in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and the surrounding areas.

    Similar to Global Positioning System technology, electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy creates a three-dimensional virtual “roadmap” of the lungs from the patient’s CT-Scan that enables a Wellmont physician to steer a unique set of catheters through the lungs to reach the targeted lesion in a minimally invasive manner.

    Electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy can be used with a wide-range of patients including those who suffer from poor lung function or have had cancer surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

    How does electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy work?

    An experienced lung specialist locates one or more lesions deep in the lungs on a CT-Scan. That CT-Scan of the lungs is loaded onto a computer and a virtual three-dimensional “roadmap” of the lungs is generated. The physician marks anatomy points of the lungs and the target lesions on the three-dimensional image to map a route for navigation and steerable catheters to travel through the lungs.

    A unique set of catheters is then loaded into the bronchoscope before the procedure begins. These catheters have 360-degree steering capabilities to reach lesions as well as an electromagnetic sensor that allows the physician to track the exact location of the catheters in the lungs.

    The patient is anesthetized for this outpatient procedure,and the physician passes the bronchoscope containing the unique catheters through the mouth, throat and windpipe, and into the lungs. This allows the electromagnetic sensor to be viewed in real-time on the virtual three-dimensional “roadmap” of the lungs to assist the physician in reaching the target lesions.

    Once the target lesions are reached, the steering catheter is removed and tiny surgical instruments are passed through the bronchoscope to collect a biopsy from the lesion for testing and diagnosis.

    If testing and diagnosis reveal cancerous cells, referral for treatment is made. Bristol Regional also offers our region's only CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System to quickly and painlessly treat cancer with sub-millimeter accuracy.

    Recovery and risks

    After the electromagnetic navigation procedure, patients are observed until they are awake enough to return home. The most common risk is pneumothorax – or collapsed lung – which occurs at a rate comparable to that of traditional bronchoscopy.*

    *National Cancer Institute. US National Institutes of Health. National Lung Screening Trial, 2005 Update.

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  • How do I get started?

    If you have questions about Wellmont's pulmonology services, please contact us or speak with your primary care provider.

  • Find a Wellmont pulmonologist

    Wellmont physicians are conveniently located throughout Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. 

  • Abingdon, Va.

  • Big Stone Gap, Va.

  • Bristol, Tenn.

  • Johnson City, Tenn.

  • Kingsport, Tenn.

  • Lebanon, Va.

  • Marion, Va.

  • Rogersville, Tenn.