Bronchoscopy is a commonly used minimally invasive procedure for lung-cancer staging. In standard practice, however, physicians differ greatly in their levels of performance. To address this concern, image-guided intervention (IGI) systems have been devised to improve procedure success. Current IGI bronchoscopy systems based on virtual bronchoscopic navigation (VBN), however, require involvement from the attending technician. This lessens physician control and hinders the overall acceptance of such systems. We propose a hands-free VBN system for planning and guiding bronchoscopy. The system introduces two major contributions. First, it incorporates a new procedure-planning method that automatically computes airway navigation plans conforming to the physician's bronchoscopy training and manual dexterity. Second, it incorporates a guidance strategy for bronchoscope navigation that enables user-friendly system control via a foot switch, coupled with a novel position-verification mechanism. Phantom studies verified that the system enables smooth operation under physician control, while also enabling faster navigation than an existing technician-assisted VBN system. In a clinical human study, we noted a 97% bronchoscopy navigation success rate, in line with existing VBN systems, and a mean guidance time per diagnostic site = 52 s. This represents a guidance time often nearly 3 min faster per diagnostic site than guidance times reported for other technician-assisted VBN systems. Finally, an ergonomic study further asserts the system's acceptability to the physician and long-term potential.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biomedical Engineering