Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. But if it's caught early, the survival rate for lung cancer is much higher.

Interventional Pulmonology is a new field within pulmonary medicine that focuses on the use of advanced diagnostic and therapeutic techniques to treat patients with lung cancer, benign airway disorders and pleural diseases. Procedures are generally safer, and require a shorter recovery time than patients who undergo surgery. The Interventional Pulmonology program at Regional Medical Center of San Jose offers cutting edge diagnostic and therapeutic services in pulmonary medicine.

An interventional pulmonologist collaborates with doctors practicing in other medical fields, such as Radiation Oncology, Medical Oncology, and Thoracic Surgery on techniques and procedures that will benefit many types of patients. We have specialized expertise with the most advanced techniques and technologies available to diagnose and treat many patients who are traditionally treated with more invasive procedures.

Diagnostic & Therapeutic Procedures

In addition to conventional bronchoscopic procedures, Regional Medical Center of San Jose is the first hospital in San Jose to offer Electromagnetic Navigation Bronchoscopy (ENB), a minimally-invasive option to locate, biopsy and plan treatment for lesions (spots) detected deep in the lungs. For many patients, this outpatient procedure can mean detecting cancer earlier, giving them more treatment options.

It's a treatment used when traditional procedures, such as traditional bronchoscopy and surgery, would be impossible or too risky. Until now, physicians have relied on needle biopsy or surgery to take tissue samples - both of which can cause complications.

The superDimension® i·Logic™ System Regional uses combines GPS-like technology with a catheter-based system that uses the patient's natural airways to access lesions that were previously hard to reach. A physician is guided to the tumor in much the same way as a driver is guided by GPS navigation system. Typically a patient with a spot on their lung had the options of major surgery to remove a section of the lung, bronchoscopy, needle biopsy, or watchful waiting.

The ENB procedure is typically performed in an outpatient setting and its unique approach may increase the chances that a patient will safely get a diagnosis and begin treatment, if needed.

Bronchoscopy is the most common interventional pulmonology procedure. During bronchoscopy, a doctor advances a flexible endoscope (bronchoscope) through a person's mouth or nose into the windpipe. The doctor advances the bronchoscope through the airways in each lung, checking for problems. Images from inside the lung are displayed on a video screen. The bronchoscope has a channel at its tip, through which a doctor can pass small tools. Using these tools, the doctor can perform several other interventional pulmonology procedures.

Bronchoalveolar lavage is performed during bronchoscopy. Sterile water is injected through the bronchoscope into a segment of the lung. The fluid is then suctioned back and sent for tests. Bronchoalveolar lavage can help diagnose infection, cancer, bleeding, and other conditions.

During bronchoscopy, a doctor may collect a small piece of tissue from either the lung or a nearby lymph node. The interventional pulmonologist can use a needle or forceps advanced through the bronchoscope to get a sample of tissue. Biopsies can detect cancer, infection, and other conditions.

For people with lung cancer or other cancers, interventional pulmonology biopsies can often accurately identify spread of cancer into lymph nodes. This can prevent unnecessary surgery or help determine the best choice for treatment.

This involves the opening of an airway using a balloon, similar to the opening of coronary arteries by angioplasty. This is particularly useful when the airway is too narrow, as a result of scarring after a tracheotomy, for example. Depending on the location of the airway narrowing, dilation can be performed using a flexible or rigid bronchoscope.

A minimally invasive way of placing markers used to locate tumors for precise delivery of radiation for patients who plan to undergo stereotactic radiosurgery to treat tumors that cannot be accessed with traditional surgery.

A procedure that requires the use of a small instrument with a camera that is inserted into the chest cavity through a very small incision, and allows the physician to perform diagnostic and therapeutic procedures inside the chest.

Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) is a minimally invasive but highly effective procedure used to diagnose lung cancer, infections, and other diseases causing enlarged lymph nodes in the chest. EBUS allows physicians to perform a technique known as transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) to obtain tissue or fluid samples from the lungs and surrounding lymph nodes without conventional surgery. The samples can be used for diagnosing and staging lung cancer, detecting infections, and identifying inflammatory diseases that affect the lungs, such as sarcoidosis or other cancers like lymphoma.