PARIS – Researchers said they have patented a virtual bronchoscopy system that improves lung cancer diagnosis by enabling endoscopic examination of peripheral lung lesions.
The haptic-based navigation system, developed by the Institute of Industrial and Control Engineering (IOC) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), Spain, and the Pulmonology Research Group of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), Catalonia, aims to help physicians decide whether a bronchoscopy is necessary and avoid potential risks and discomfort for the patient.
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Using the system, developed from virtual bronchoscopy imaging based on 2D computed tomography scans, pulmonologists can virtually explore a patient's airways and simulate the flexible bronchoscope movements to be made during the real exam. Then, the pulmonologists can plan an access route from the trachea to the peripheral lung lesion. It is also possible to determine whether the tip of the bronchoscope will reach the injury, and if not, to calculate the distance remaining and the biopsy technique to use. During the planning state, reaching the conclusion that pulmonary tissue is not accessible means that a futile exam is avoided, researchers claimed.
Unlike traditional bronchoscopy systems, researchers said their codeveloped system takes bronchoscope geometry and kinematic constraints into account. For that, they said they have designed specific software and adapted automated movement planning techniques to map paths from the trachea to peripheral lung lesions. The tip of the bronchoscope is modeled as a kinematic chain with a mobile base and three degrees of freedom: the curvature of the tip, rotation around the axis and forward movement.
The system is developed as part of a three-year project, dubbed GUIBRO, which aims to study, implement and assess the guided bronchoscopy systems for peripheral lung lesion exams. See related stories:Vector network analyzers aid breast cancer screening research
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