PHOENIX (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Using CT imaging to detect lung cancers in people at high risk for developing it has made it possible to find small tumors with substantially increased sensitivity than is possible with radiography, However, this approach has posed a new challenge to thoracic surgeons: How to visualize these nodules – subcentimeter and nonpalpable – for biopsy or for resection?

The answer may be the hybrid thoracic operating room developed by Dr. Kazuhiro Yasufuku and his associates at Toronto General Hospital, a novel surgical suite that he described at the annual meeting of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Dr. Yasufuku and his team began using the hybrid operating room on an investigational basis in 2013 and have now done about 50 cases as part of several research protocols. The trials address the feasibility of resection, biopsy, and nodule localization, as well as whether the hybrid approach reduces the amount of radiation exposure to both patients and to the surgical team, he said. They plan to report some of their initial results later this year.

The Toronto group assembled the hybrid array of equipment into a single operating room that includes both a dual-source, dual-energy CT scanner and a robotic cone-beam CT scanner, equipment for minimally invasive procedures including video-assisted thoracoscopic and robotic surgery, and advanced endoscopic technology including endobronchial ultrasound and navigational bronchoscopy. “We use innovative methods that we already know about, but bring them all together” within a single space, Dr. Yasufuku explained. “Rather than having patients go to several locations, we can do everything at the same time in one room.”

Perhaps the most novel aspect of this operating room is inclusion of a robotic cone-beam CT scanner, which uses mobile, flat CT-imaging panels that overcome the limitations of a conventional, fixed CT scanner. “They scan the patient and then we can retract them and get them out of the way” to better facilitate surgery, he said in an interview.

“We do not have a culture in thoracic surgery of using imaging during surgery,” said Dr. Yasufuku, director of the interventional thoracic surgery program at the University of Toronto. Hybrid operating rooms using noninvasive or minimally invasive equipment and procedures have become commonplace for cardiovascular surgeons and cardiac interventionalists, but this approach has generally not yet been applied to thoracic surgery for cancer, in large part because of the imaging limitations, he said. “It is difficult to perform video-assisted thorascopic surgery using fixed CT.”

Bronchoscopic technologies provide additional, important tools for minimally invasive thoracic surgery. “We use the hybrid operating room to mark small [nonpalpable] lesions.” One approach to marking is to place a microcoil within the nodule with a percutaneous needle. Another approach is to tag the nodule with a fluorescent dye using navigational bronchoscopy.

Dr. Yasufuku also emphasized that the hybrid operating room will also be valuable when new, minimally invasive, nonsurgical therapeutic options for treatment of lung cancer become available in the near future.

Dr. Yasufuku said that he had no relevant disclosures.

On Twitter @mitchelzoler


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