When lung cancer is caught early, it is very treatable and survival rates can increase. Early-stage lung cancers are often small and difficult to reach. With robotic bronchoscopy, a minimally invasive outpatient procedure, patients have less pain, faster recovery and fewer complications than surgical procedures.
Robotic bronchoscopy allows physicians to navigate through narrow airways, locate, diagnose, biopsy and stage lung nodules anywhere in the lung. This technology gives the program a success rate nearing 90% in locating and successfully obtaining a tissue sample from difficult-to-reach areas of the lung. (Older technologies like electromagnetic navigation bronchoscopy have a success rate around 50%.)
What Is a Lung Nodule?
Most lung nodules are not cancerous. A lung nodule, also called a spot or mass, is an abnormal growth on the lung. Lung nodules are common and more than 90% are not cancerous.
What Is a Bronchoscopy?
The lungs have 1,500 miles of tiny airways. A bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows a physician to see into the lung’s airways with a bronchoscope. The bronchoscope is a small, lighted tube with a camera that is placed through the nose or mouth into the lungs. The camera view is seen on a monitor and helps the physician move the bronchoscope manually throughout the airways.
What Is a Robotic Bronchoscopy with a Cone Beam CT Scan?
The guidance system helps physicians navigate safely through the lung's tiny airways with precision.This type of bronchoscopy has increased flexibility and dexterity allowing the camera to move in every direction. It also has a controller with a computer-guided navigation system for precise movement throughout the lung’s airways. The camera providers a 120° field of vision for navigating and clearer images.
Combining a robotic bronchoscopy with a cone beam CT scan adds even more precision. The cone-beam CT acts like a spotlight to provide 3D real-time imaging guidance. It confirms that the bronchoscopy is centered on the nodule. When it’s on target, the procedure continues. If it’s slightly off target, the low dose 3D CT scan provides information for repositioning.
This procedure has a low risk profile, exposes the patient to less radiation than traditional CT scans and is one of the safest ways to have a lung biopsy.
Benefits of Robotic Bronchoscopy
- Our team continually monitors the robotic bronchoscopy as it precisely locates the problem area in the lung. Minimally invasive outpatient procedure
- Obtains tissue samples from deep within the lung where 70% of nodules reside
- 85-90% success rate reaching small lung nodules in difficult-to-reach locations
- Fewer complications and shorter recovery than surgical biopsy
- Low-risk profile procedure
- Can diagnose benign growths and identify infections
- If lung cancer, can diagnose and stage the cancer in one outpatient procedure
Patients need a referral from their physician for a robotic bronchoscopy consultation with an interventional pulmonologist. Robotic bronchoscopy is covered by most private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Learn more about referrals.