A CT scan or x-ray often is the first test your physician performs to look for masses or spots on the lungs, but a biopsy is essential in accurately diagnosing and staging cancer, and developing an effective treatment plan. Alegent Creighton Health has a newer technology, Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS), to assist in providing an accurate and timely diagnosis, so treatment may begin promptly.

Why it is used

EBUS enables physicians to obtain tissue or fluid samples from the lungs and lymph nodes in the chest without conventional surgery. It is used to diagnose lung cancer, infections and other diseases that may cause enlarged lymph nodes in the chest. Because EBUS is minimally invasive and offers a high degree of accuracy, it can greatly reduce the amount of time between diagnosis and treatment.

How it works

EBUS is a flexible bronchoscope equipped with a miniature ultrasound probe. While the patient is under sedation, a small tube is inserted into the nose or mouth into the large airways. The ultrasound mini-probe provides a real-time 360° image of the airways, blood vessels, lungs, and lymph nodes of upper chest between and in front of the lungs (mediastinum). It allows the physician to view difficult-to-reach areas and to access more, and smaller, lymph nodes better than any other diagnostic procedures.

When the mini-probe reaches the area of concern, a sample is taken for biopsy via a small needle through transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA). The collected samples are used for diagnosing and staging (determining whether the cancer has spread to adjacent areas), detecting infections and identifying inflammatory diseases affecting the lungs.

Safer and more accurate than traditional procedures

Traditional bronchoscopies do not offer this advantage and often made additional invasive surgeries, such as mediastinoscopy or thoracotomy necessary to diagnose or determine the disease stage. Because EBUS provides physicians with good diagnostic information at low risk, it has become a safer alternative to invasive procedures and in many cases, eliminates the need for them altogether.

Quick Diagnosis

A typical EBUS procedure takes 40-90 minutes, depending on the number of lymph node samples that are taken. The accuracy and speed of the EBUS procedure lends itself to rapid on-site pathologic evaluation.  An in-house pathologist can process and examine biopsy samples removed during the procedure and request additional samples, if needed.

Benefits

  • Minimally invasive
  • Quick results
  • Outpatient procedure in most cases
  • Real time imaging
  • No surgical wound means less chance of infection
  • Less costly than invasive procedures
  • Less waiting time for recovery means treatment can begin right away