of our Lung Cancer Screening program,

the McLeod Health team has been detecting lung cancer earlier and saving lives through low-dose CT scans for more than seven years. Since that time the cancer team has expanded the program to include four dedicated nurse navigators, a lung nodule clinic and patient conferences with multiple specialists.

Now, the addition of innovative early detection technology is enabling the team to precisely track and diagnose lung cancer in its earliest stages with electromagnetic navigation. This new technology revolutionizes the speed and accuracy with which lung cancer can be diagnosed, allowing for treatment to begin sooner.

Offered at McLeod Regional Medical Center and McLeod Health Seacoast, the SPiN Thoracic Navigation System provides electromagnetic navigation and guidance to distant regions of the lungs in a minimally invasive outpatient procedure, enabling McLeod Health Pulmonologists to locate, biopsy and plan treatment for lung nodules that were previously difficult to access with traditional technology. The McLeod team is utilizing the system to act sooner and not wait for nodules to grow before they are biopsied.

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Prior to the procedure, we use the data from a patient’s lung CT scans and SPiN technology to build a dynamic 3D map of the patient’s lungs and navigate the shortest, safest path to the targeted nodule. Since it is often difficult to reach a specific nodule in the lung because it is a moving target, SPiN accommodates the constant movement within the lungs created by normal breathing.

Similar to GPS in your car, electromagnetic navigation (EMN) uses the natural airways of a patient’s lung as roadways. Utilizing sensor tip tracked instruments, the physicians can accurately navigate through the lungs using the EMN roadmap to access smaller and harder-to-reach nodules. They can also obtain tissue samples for biopsy by seamlessly transitioning from navigational bronchoscopy to a transthoracic needle aspiration (TTNA) in the same procedure. The SPiN technology provides patients with an earlier and more precise diagnosis.

Earlier treatment for lung cancer is proven to increase survival rates to as high as 92 percent. Using this technology, we can establish the diagnosis sooner and potentially perform pre-surgical staging in a single procedure. This is beneficial to patients because it requires fewer hospital visits and leads to better patient outcomes. And, it allows us to ease their concerns or fears and focus on the course of treatment they want to pursue whether that is surgery or radiation treatment.

When this system is a part of a low-dose lung CT screening program like it is at McLeod Health it significantly improves the chances of detecting lung cancer in its earliest stages and assists pulmonologists in providing their patients with the best course of treatment.

For more information on the McLeod Lung Cancer Screening Program, call nurse navigator Amy Perugini at 843-777-5953.

Dr. Vinod K. Jona joined the medical staff of McLeod Health in 2001 and has been instrumental in the expansion of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine programs. He most recently served as Chief of the Medical Staff for McLeod Regional Medical Center. Additionally, Dr. Jona serves as medical director of the McLeod Healthy Lungs Initiative Program and the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Committee. He is also a member of the Medical Staff Executive Committee, Quality Operations Committee and the McLeod Physician Associates Steering Board Committee. Board certified in internal medicine, pulmonary disease and sleep medicine, Dr. Jona obtained his medical degree at Kakatiya Medical College in Warangal, India. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Jacobi Medical Center of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Yeshiva University, in Bronx, New York, and a fellowship in pulmonary disease at Albert Einstein Health Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Jona cares for patients at McLeod Pulmonary and Critical Care Associates.

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