More than 90% of individuals diagnosed with lung cancer do not survive, in part because it is often detected at an advanced stage. However, with early diagnosis, the average five–year survival rate is 92%. Los Robles Health System is pleased to offer the community new robotic technology to detect lung cancer early.

The Ion® by Intuitive, a new robotic-assisted system, allows specialists to use a minimally invasive endoscope to see inside the lungs, obtain a tissue sample for biopsy and enable earlier, more accurate diagnosis of small and hard-to-reach nodules in the periphery of the lung.

The technology integrates the latest advancements in robotics, software, data science and endoscopy, with the use of small cameras and tools to enter the body through its natural openings. The new robotic system features a vision probe that directs the pulmonologist in real-time through airways in the lungs to specific target areas. A fiber optic sensor measures the patient’s breathing tubes hundreds of times per second to provide additional placement information. Los Robles is the first hospital in the Conejo Valley to use this robotic-assisted platform for minimally invasive lung biopsy.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, in part because it has no symptoms in its early stages. This endoscopy system holds potential to help us make a diagnosis earlier by providing improved reach, vision and control for bronchoscopic procedures,” says Dr. Tao He, Interventional Pulmonologist at Los Robles Health System. “Earlier diagnosis with this minimally invasive approach contributes to increased chances of survival and reduces unnecessary invasive diagnostic procedures.”

There are a variety of diagnostic options currently available for lung cancer, but all have limitations in accuracy, safety or invasiveness. These limitations can lead to false positives, false negatives, or side effects such as pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and hemorrhage, which may increase health care costs and extend hospital stays. The robotic assisted system is designed to provide more reach, more stability and more precision for lung biopsy.

The device uses a familiar controller–like interface that is used to navigate the flexible robotic endoscope to the periphery of the lung. Combining traditional endoscopic views into the lung with computer–assisted navigation and shape-sensing technology, the robot provides surgeons continuous confidence in accuracy for the entire procedure.

“We are thrilled to offer this minimally invasive technology to our community,” says Natalie Mussi, CEO of Los Robles Health System. “The new system is another example of our commitment to bringing innovative and advanced technologies to Ventura County and beyond.”