An Endoscopic Navigation System for Lung Cancer Biopsy

CVC has a new PhD on its record!


Lung cancer is one of the most diagnosed cancers among men and women. Actually, lung cancer accounts for 13\% of the total cases with a 5-year global survival rate in patients. Although Early detection increases survival rate from 38\% to 67\%, accurate diagnosis remains a challenge. Pathological confirmation requires extracting a sample of the lesion tissue for its biopsy. The preferred procedure for tissue biopsy is called bronchoscopy. A bronchoscopy is an endoscopic technique for the internal exploration of airways which facilitates the performance of minimal invasive interventions with low risk for the patient.

Recent advances in bronchoscopic devices have increased their use for minimal invasive diagnostic and intervention procedures, like lung cancer biopsy sampling. Despite the improvement in bronchoscopic device quality, there is a lack of intelligent computational systems for supporting in-vivo clinical decision during examinations. Existing technologies fail to accurately reach the lesion due to several aspects at intervention off-line planning and poor intra-operative guidance at exploration time. Existing guiding systems radiate patients and clinical staff, might be expensive and achieve a suboptimlal 70\% of yield boost.

Diagnostic yield could be improved reducing radiation and costs by developing intra-operative support systems able to guide the bronchoscopist to the lesion during the intervention. The goal of this PhD thesis is to develop an image-based navigation system for intra-operative guidance of bronchoscopists to a target lesion across a path previously planned on a CT-scan.

We propose a 3D navigation system which uses the anatomy of video bronchoscopy frames to locate the bronchoscope within the airways. Once the bronchoscope is located, our navigation system is able to indicate the bifurcation which needs to be followed to reach the lesion. In order to facilitate an off-line validation as realistic as possible, we also present a method for augmenting simulated virtual bronchoscopies with the appearance of intra-operative videos. Experiments performed on augmented and intra-operative videos, prove that our algorithm can be speeded up for an on-line implementation in the operating room.

Keywords: lung cancer, bronchoscopy, navigation system.