Predictors of Success When Implementing an Electromagnetic Navigational Bronchoscopy Program

Published:February 22, 2022DOI:


      • With electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy, successful navigation can be improved with the presence of a bronchus sign, a nodule >2 cm, and distance from the pleura >1.4 cm.
      • A nodule size >1.3 cm with a positive bronchus sign led to the best probability of diagnostic biopsy.



      With the advent of lung cancer screening, lung nodules are being discovered at an increasing rate. With improvements in transbronchial biopsy technology, it is important for thoracic surgeons to be involved with diagnostic procedures. The aim of this project is to relate the thoracic surgeon experience in implementing an electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy (ENB) program at our institution and describe the factors that led to successful navigation (the ability to position a biopsy instrument in range for biopsy) and diagnostic biopsy of nodules.


      The thoracic surgery ENB program was initiated in 2014. A retrospective analysis of patients referred to thoracic surgery from 2014 to 2019 for lung nodule evaluation was performed. Patients who underwent ENB and biopsy were included. Recursive partitioning (CART) and multivariable regression analyses were used to identify predictors of successful navigation and biopsy.


      There were 73 patients who underwent ENB evaluation of 91 nodules from 2014 to 2019. There was successful navigation in 75.8% of nodules, and on multivariable analysis, bronchus sign, lesion size, and pleural distance were significant predictors of successful navigation. Of the lesions that had successful navigation, 65.2% had a diagnostic biopsy. Based on CART analysis, positive bronchus sign and lesion size ≥ 1.3 cm were most predictive of obtaining a diagnostic biopsy with a probability of 0.75.


      Nodule size, distance to the pleura, and bronchus size are independent variables of successful navigation when using ENB. However, of the lesions that were successfully reached, combined lesion size >1.3 cm and a positive bronchus sign were most predictive of obtaining a diagnostic biopsy. These factors should be considered when implementing an ENB program in a thoracic surgery practice.


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