Navigated bronchoscopy: a technical review

J Bronchology Interv Pulmonol. 2014 Jul;21(3):242-64. doi: 10.1097/LBR.0000000000000064.


Background: Navigated bronchoscopy uses virtual 3-dimensional lung model visualizations created from preoperative computed tomography images often in synchronization with the video bronchoscope to guide a tool to peripheral lesions. Navigated bronchoscopy has developed fast since the introduction of virtual bronchoscopy with integrated electromagnetic sensors in the late 1990s. The purposes of the review are to give an overview and update of the technological components of navigated bronchoscopy, an assessment of its clinical usefulness, and a brief assessment of the commercial platforms for navigated bronchoscopy.

Methods: We performed a literature search with relevant keywords to navigation and bronchoscopy and iterated on the reference lists of relevant papers, with emphasis on the last 5 years.

Results: The paper presents an overview of the components necessary for performing navigated bronchoscopy, assessment of the diagnostic accuracy of different approaches, and an analysis of the commercial systems. We were able to identify 4 commercial platforms and 9 research and development groups with considerable activity in the field. Finally, on the basis of our findings and our own experience, we provide a discussion on navigated bronchoscopy with focus on the next steps of development.

Conclusions: The literature review showed that the peripheral diagnostic accuracy has improved using navigated bronchoscopy compared with traditional bronchoscopy. We believe that there is room for improvement in the diagnostic success rate by further refinement of methods, approaches, and tools used in navigated bronchoscopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoscopy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung / surgery*
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed