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Early Diagnosis at The Pulmonary Nodule Center

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The discovery of pulmonary nodules, which are small abnormalities in the lungs seen on x-rays or CT scans, is becoming very commonplace due to the increased use of CT scans to test for many types of medical conditions throughout the body. Although the vast majority of pulmonary nodules represent totally harmless areas of inflammation or scarring in the lungs, lung cancer in its earliest stages can also appear as a small nodule. Determining which nodules are potentially dangerous (malignant) therefore becomes important when evaluating a patient with a pulmonary nodule.

The Lung Cancer Center at The Valley Hospital recognizes this problem, and has responded by establishing The Pulmonary Nodule Center, a dedicated program aimed at determining which pulmonary nodules require further investigation for malignancy and which can be ignored. Patients with indeterminate pulmonary nodules found on an x-ray study or on a CT Scan may obtain an opinion and any needed services regarding the management of their nodules based on standardized algorithms and state-of-the-art diagnostics.

The images above show CT scans from two different patients with pulmonary nodules. The arrow on the left points to a benign (noncancerous) nodule, while the arrow on the right shows a small lung cancer. The Pulmonary Nodule Center offers the expertise and technology needed to determine which nodules are malignant (cancerous).
The images above show CT scans from two different patients with pulmonary nodules. The arrow on the left points to a benign (noncancerous) nodule, while the arrow on the right shows a small lung cancer. The Pulmonary Nodule Center offers the expertise and technology needed to determine which nodules are malignant (cancerous).

Highlights of The Pulmonary Nodule Center

  • Routine use of “thin slice” CT scanning for the evaluation of pulmonary nodules. CT scans become more accurate when more “cuts” or “slices” are used. At Valley, CT slices of the lungs are routinely set at 1.25 millimeters, providing more images (usually four times as many images compared to standard CT) for the radiologist to evaluate when imaging a pulmonary nodule. The performance of scans in this fashion, however, does NOT result in more radiation for the patient and is completed during one breath-hold by the patient.
  • When pulmonary nodules grow in size, suspicion for cancer is increased. Our Center uses state-of-the-art computer software which analyzes pulmonary nodule growth in three-dimensions. This is called Volumetric Analysis and may be the most accurate way to detect nodule growth compared to standard, 2-dimensional scanning techniques. Once again, no additional radiation or scanning is needed to perform this novel type of analysis.

The CT scan on the left shows a conventional image of a small lung cancer (arrow). Specialized computer software at The Pulmonary Nodule Center has the ability to create a three dimensional image of the nodule (right), which allows very precise measurements of growth. Nodules which grow in size are more suspicious for malignancy (cancer).
The CT scan on the left shows a conventional image of a small lung cancer (arrow). Specialized computer software at The Pulmonary Nodule Center has the ability to create a three dimensional image of the nodule (right), which allows very precise measurements of growth. Nodules which grow in size are more suspicious for malignancy (cancer).

The arrow in the CT scan on the above left shows a lung cancer in the left lung. PET scanning, as shown on the right, shows the cancer as a black spot on the image. PET scanning, as available at The Pulmonary Nodule Center, can be useful to distinguish malignant from benign nodules in the lungs.
The arrow in the CT scan on the above left shows a lung cancer in the left lung. PET scanning, as shown on the right, shows the cancer as a black spot on the image. PET scanning, as available at The Pulmonary Nodule Center, can be useful to distinguish malignant from benign nodules in the lungs.

  • Should a biopsy of a suspicious nodule be needed, minimally invasive biopsy approaches are utilized, including Transthoracic Needle Biopsy, Endobronchial Ultrasound Guided Biopsy, and Video Assisted (VATS) Biopsy.

To obtain an opinion about a pulmonary nodule form one of our doctors at The Pulmonary Nodule Center, please call us at 201-634-5722.


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