Dr Neal Nevani, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, explains how technology has radically improved the diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have. of chest conditions. In his new article for totalhealth he explains that it is no longer necessary to have x-rays, CTThe abbreviation for computed tomography, a scan that generates a series of cross-sectional x-ray images Scans or even biopsies as these tests have been superseded by the method known as endobronchial ultrasoundA diagnostic method in which very high frequency sound waves are passed into the body and the reflective echoes analysed to build a picture of the internal organs – or of the foetus in the uterus. (EBUS).
The chest is traditionally a difficult area to visualise and so older tests used to involve a combination of x-rays, CT scans and standard bronchoscopyA type of endoscopy examination enabling a doctor to examine the airways through an instrument called a bronchoscope. However, in some cases even this battery of diagnostic procedures was not sufficient to obtain a reliable diagnosis of tuberculosisAn infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium Tuberculosis., sarcoidosisA disorder in which inflammed tissue forms nodules or granulomas. It may affect many body systems including the lungs, liver, lymph nodes, glands and skin or cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. and any follow-up usually had to include an invasive biopsyThe removal of a small sample of cells or tissue so that it may be examined under a microscope. The term may also refer to the tissue sample itself. with an operation and an overnight stay in hospital.
However, today Dr Nevani explains, “Patients can have a simple bronchoscopy with endobronchial ultrasound as a day case and will usually be leaving for home within an hour of the procedure being completed.”
Dr Nevani’s article answers many of the questions that most patients will have, and helps to ensure that patients are properly armed with the information they need to achieve an effective diagnosis. His article describes how the latest diagnostic developments have only been possible since the first miniaturised devices were developed and released in 2003. Since then the technique has been studied and subsequently used in clinical practice all over the world. He says, “It is a highly accurate and reliable outpatient test that is now accepted by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) as an important diagnostic technique in respiratory medicine.”