Stars Appeal equipment speeds up diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer and other respiratory patients

Thanks to diagnostic equipment funded by the Stars Appeal, lung cancer and other respiratory patients at Salisbury Hospital can be diagnosed more quickly and no longer have to travel to bigger specialist hospitals.

£170,000 worth of advanced equipment in the Respiratory Department has enabled the introduction of two new procedures, endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) and thoracoscopy.

EBUS is a diagnostic technique that’s especially useful for suspected lung cancer and related conditions. It uses a camera attached to an ultrasound machine that goes into the patient’s lungs. The doctor can look at tubing in the lungs and nearby lymph glands on screen. As part of the procedure the doctor also takes a sample from the lungs. EBUS allows detailed analysis which helps the respiratory team design and deliver more targeted treatments.

Thoracoscopy enables the examination of the space between the lung and chest wall.  It uses a specialist camera to let doctors look at the pleura (lining of the lung) and the area surrounding the lungs and is an important diagnostic and therapeutic intervention for lung cancer patients. It allows fluid to be drained from the pleural space, the pleura to be biopsied and treatment to be given to the lining of the lung to prevent more fluid from building up, all in one procedure.

The new equipment means patients now get results in as little as 72 hours. Previously patients had to travel to Southampton for tests, and the process of diagnosis and starting treatment could take 3-4 weeks. So patients can now get a diagnosis more quickly and start their treatment as soon as possible.

Michael Francis, 78, from Gillingham was the first patient to benefit from the new thoracoscopy equipment. He said: “I had an appointment with my consultant on the Tuesday where I was told that earlier tests had been inconclusive.  I was then referred for the thoracoscopy on the Friday, you can’t get much quicker than that. Having to wait for a confirmed diagnosis isn’t a good place to be, it’s always better to get these things done as soon as possible.  That way you can get on with things and avoid having the uncertainty hanging over you. It’s great to be able to have this service at our local hospital.”

Ali Slaven (pictured above right with husband Dereck), 54, from Shipton Bellinger, benefitted from EBUS after a routine scan showed up enlarged lymph nodes in her chest. She said: “I was hugely relieved to be able to have the procedure at my familiar local hospital, where I knew my consultant, and to get my results so quickly. Life stops while you wait for a diagnosis. This made the whole thing so easy and reassuring.” The procedure showed Ali didn’t have lung cancer, but a rare autoimmune condition called sarcoidosis, which the respiratory team are helping her to manage.

Dr Richard Harrison (pictured above left), Respiratory Consultant said: “Thanks to the generous people who support our Stars Appeal we have revolutionised our approach to the early diagnosis of lung cancer and other respiratory conditions. This is undoubtedly improving the outlook for our patients. It’s already helping hundreds of people a year and that will only increase. This is speeding up diagnosis, stopping unnecessary slower tests and giving us more information from one test. Because we can diagnose and stage lung cancer together we can create a treatment plan more quickly at what is a very distressing time for patients and their families, and ensure they continue to see the Salisbury medical team they’ve already got to know.”

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