Salem, Va.LewisGale Medical Center (LGMC) is the first hospital in Virginia to commercially use a new robotic bronchoscope that provides physicians with continuous, direct vision throughout a procedure used to biopsy lung nodules, which are small round or oval-shaped growths in the lung. The robotic technology also reaches anywhere in the lungs, including the periphery, which is the outer part of the lung, where small hard-to-reach, potentially cancerous, nodules tend to develop. The unique vision and reach capabilities provide physicians with valuable information to aid in the procedure’s success, including the detection of lung cancer in an earlier stage when it can be treated more effectively. 

The MONARCH Robotic Bronchoscope is detecting hard-to-reach, potentially cancerous, lung nodules earlier with its unique continuous vision capabilities and telescoping design that can successfully access all 18 segments of the lung. It also has lower complication rates compared to a procedure in which a thin needle is used to remove small nodules that are located deep in the periphery of the lung.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, in part because it has no symptoms in its early stages,” said Nelson Greene, MD, board-certified specialist in pulmonary diseases and critical care medicine, with LGMC. “Because this innovative, robotic bronchoscope provides improved reach, vision, and control for bronchoscopic procedures, it holds potential to help us diagnose lung cancer in an early stage when it can be treated more effectively. We are excited about the promise of this technology to offer better outcomes for our patients with lung cancer.”

According to the American Lung Association, the lung cancer five-year survival rate of 18.6 percent is lower than many other leading cancer sites because only 16 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage. There are a variety of other diagnostic options currently available for lung cancer, but all have limitations in accuracy, safety, or invasiveness, resulting in increased healthcare costs and longer hospital stays.

“This new technology is another significant step in the development of our comprehensive Lung Cancer Program. It further strengthens innovative practices that we already have in place, including analyzing CT exams for incidental lung nodule findings and artificial intelligence/predictive-modeling software programs to track and improve outcomes for patients at risk for future disease,” said Harsukh Patolia, MD, chief of staff with LGMC. “For patients diagnosed with lung cancer, robotic-assisted surgery is performed when possible for faster recovery, and our full-service cancer centers offer the latest chemotherapy, radiation, and targeted-therapy treatments.”

“We are very pleased to bring this unique system to southwest Virginia, and especially to our community, where lung cancer incidence rates are among the highest in the Commonwealth,” said Lance Jones, market president of LewisGale Health System. “This new technology is just one of the many benefits our partnership with the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute will bring to physicians and patients in this region.”