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St. Joseph Hospital Offers New, Minimally-Invasive Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

04/07/2017

(Humboldt, Calif. – April 7, 2017) St. Joseph Hospital has purchased a new Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS), becoming the first and only hospital in the area to offer this technology thanks to the generous donations from the community to the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation.

This minimally-invasive device helps pulmonologists take a closer look at the lungs and chest to evaluate enlarged lymph nodes, identify chest infections, diagnose noncancerous inflammatory diseases like sarcoidosis (that may look like cancer in initial scans), detect lymphoma and determine the stage of lung cancer. According to the 2014 Cancer Care Community Needs Assessment, 643 cases of lung and bronchus cancer were diagnosed in Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity County, a higher incidence rate than for California as a whole.

“This technology will enhance and expand our medical staff’s ability to provide the best quality of care, as well as quickly and more accurately diagnosis cancers, without the need for patients to leave Humboldt County,” said David O’Brien, MD, President, St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County.

The technology consists of an ultrasound device attached to a thin, malleable instrument (a bronchoscope). During the procedure, the patient is placed under local anesthetic and the physician guides the bronchoscope into the patient’s mouth and down the trachea. The ultrasound device takes real-time images and displays them on a monitor in the operating room. The physician can pass a very thin needle (a transbronchial needle aspiration) down the bronchoscope to take a sample of the lung tissue or lymph nodes for further testing. By inserting a small ultrasound probe (a radial EBUS probe) down the bronchoscope, the physician can confirm the ideal location for sampling legions in the periphery of the lungs that are harder to reach.

Long Le, MD, FCCP, a pulmonologist with St. Joseph Health Medical Group, is a physician who is trained to use the specialized ultrasound. According to Dr. Le, this new option leaves less scarring and is a good option for patients who may have already been treated for lung cancer, but may not be able to tolerate the more invasive mediastinoscopy, which requires incisions into the neck or chest.

“In the case of lung cancer, this technology is critical because it not only diagnoses a cancer is present, it can accurately tell us the stage of the cancer. This information will guide our treatment plan for the patient and help us determine whether radiation or chemotherapy is best, before resorting to surgery, which may have a longer recovery time,” said Dr. Le.

Private philanthropy provided 100 percent of the funds to purchase the EBUS and related equipment, totaling $448,000. The Foundation received gifts ranging from $5-$50,000 to purchase the technology, with the largest single donation of $50,000 made by Patricia Kelly.

“Having the support of the Humboldt community is amazing,” said Paul McGinty, Vice President of Philanthropy, St. Joseph Health, Humboldt County. “Personal giving coupled with world-class technology and local physician expertise is a great example of how we continue to come together for the good of the community.” With local access to this technology, patients will be able to stay close to home and receive accurate diagnosis faster than ever before.

For more information about the Endobronchial Ultrasound at St. Joseph Hospital, please visit www.stjoehumboldt.org/pulmonology.

About St. Joseph Hospital
St. Joseph Hospital has been serving the health care needs of Humboldt County since 1920. Comprised of two campuses, St. Joseph Hospital and the General Hospital campus are located within a quarter mile of each other in Eureka. SJH offers comprehensive services including emergency, cardiac services in The Heart Institute, an accredited Cancer Program, Women's and Children's Services in the Childbirth Center (including Pediatric Care and the only Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nursery (NICU) on the North Coast), Neurosurgery, and Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine.

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