BRANDON — Doctors at Brandon Regional Hospital are using a new technique for finding, marking and removing small lung lesions.
Instead of treating lung cancer in its late stages, when it is usually too late to save a patient, this new procedure detects potential early-stage trouble, said Thoracic Surgeon Richard Picciocca.
“We would not have even detected these tiny lesions, previously,” he said. “This is a huge leap forward for diagnosis.”
He and Pulmonologist Daniel Lorch worked together in June to perform the first tattooing procedure on a patient, followed by surgery to remove the marked lesion. They are the first in this region of Florida to use the technology and one of the few teams in the state to try it.
“Recently, we had a patient with a lesion. When I brought the patient in to surgery, I just removed what was inked by Dr. Lorch,” Picciocca said. “I presented it to the pathologist who looked at it under a microscope while we were still in the operating room. The pathologist identified it as benign and our procedure was complete.”
“The whole thing is about early detection of cancer,” Lorch said. “It just makes things easier and less invasive for the patient.” A patient with risk factors, like a family member who has had lung cancer, or someone who smokes tobacco, can have a CT scan performed and catch these early signs of trouble.
Once a CT scan detects a lesion, then the superDimension(r) i-Logic System uses GPS technology and a catheter system to navigate airways and reach, then tattoo the trouble spot. That allows the surgeon to go directly to the lesion and remove it, instead of making a larger incision and literally using a finger to feel for it.
“Even though lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer deaths, not as much research has been done” to advance treatment, Lorch said. Use of the CT scan to find these early lesions is very new, he said. “These little spots don’t show up on traditional x-rays, but they do show up on the CT scans.”
“News that a spot (lesion), deep in your lung, has been found and a lung biopsy needs to be performed raises many concerns and emotions,” said Bland Eng, the hospital’s chief executive officer. He said it is important for patients to know this kind of treatment is available close to home.