Interventional Pulmonology

The experienced interventional pulmonology specialists at El Camino Health have expertise in diagnosing and treating a wide range of lung conditions.

Interventional pulmonology refers to advanced, minimally invasive techniques that are used to diagnose and treat lung and lung-related diseases and airway disorders. Minimally invasive means we gain access to the area needing care through a very small incision or through an opening in the body, such as the nose, to avoid making incisions.

Interventional pulmonologists are lung care specialists who’ve had extra training in procedures that use an endoscope — a flexible, lighted tube — and other tools to diagnose and treat lung conditions and diseases without surgery. These highly skilled specialists use the most sophisticated, least invasive techniques and technologies available to treat a wide range of lung conditions and diseases. Your interventional pulmonologist works closely with your other doctors — such as medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and thoracic surgeons — to provide coordinated care.

The Interventional Pulmonology Program at El Camino Health is one of the leading programs of its kind on the West Coast.

Learn more about El Camino Health’s minimally invasive procedures to diagnose and treat lung conditions.

Advanced Diagnostic Precision

About 70 percent of lung growths, or nodules, are in the outer areas of the lungs. They can be difficult to reach for biopsies (tissue samples) and sometimes require surgery to get a good sample.

El Camino Health is the first to offer a precise yet minimally invasive approach using a robotic-assisted bronchoscopy system. This nonsurgical procedure offers greater precision and accuracy of this approach than a conventional needle biopsy, which helps prevent the need for repeat biopsies for diagnosis. Here’s how it works:

  • The system uses a catheter (thin, flexible tube) that’s inserted into your mouth and guided to the nodule.
  • The catheter is small enough to get through all areas of your lungs to reach nodules, including outside the airways.
  • Your doctor guides the system’s flexible needle through the catheter to perform the biopsy.

The robotic-assisted system allows your doctor to maneuver the catheter with greater precision and accuracy than the human hand. The system’s advanced targeting capability allows your doctor to take tissue samples from different areas of the nodule — information that helps assure a correct diagnosis.

The higher precision and accuracy of this approach, compared with a conventional needle biopsy, help prevent the need for repeat biopsies for diagnosis. The minimally invasive procedure only takes about an hour, and you can go home the same day — no hospitalization is needed.

Discovering New Treatments

We’re involved in ongoing research to improve medical knowledge about interventional pulmonology, and we collaborate with many manufacturers and device developers. Our participation in research allows us to offer you access to the latest treatments through clinical trials.

Sharing Our Advanced Expertise

One hallmark of a highly regarded, successful clinical program is the presence of a fellowship program — a program that trains doctors in a specialty area. El Camino Health and Palo Alto Medical Foundation, in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), have one of only 30 fellowship programs in the country in interventional pulmonology. We’re honored to share our expertise to train the next generation of specialists.

In collaboration with Foothill College, El Camino Health offers a Certificate of Achievement in Interventional Pulmonology for respiratory therapists seeking training in interventional pulmonology, an advanced specialty of lung care. Physicians at El Camino Health provide students with direct education and training, including diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

In addition, El Camino Health is one of only two centers in the U.S. that trains doctors in bronchial thermoplasty, an advanced minimally invasive procedure to treat severe asthma. Our expertise has made us the designated training center for this procedure on the West Coast.