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DANVILLE, Pa. – New robotic-assisted bronchoscopy equipment will allow Geisinger’s pulmonology team to reach smaller areas in the lung, providing more precision during lung biopsies and the ability to detect lung cancer earlier.
The new system from the company Intuitive, known as Ion, allows for minimally invasive biopsies even when nodules are less than a centimeter in size. The Ion robotic-assisted catheter is an ultrathin, extremely flexible catheter that allows the doctor to examine all 18 segments of the lung, including the peripheral lung — where the system of airways is too narrow for a normal bronchoscope to reach.
“This new technology allows us to get farther out to areas where normal bronchoscopes don’t fit and reach smaller nodules than before, allowing us to diagnose cancer earlier. This improves the patient’s outcome and prognosis substantially,” said Ngoc-Tram Ha, M.D., Geisinger director of interventional pulmonology. “With the robotic assistance, I can navigate the ultrathin scope and I do not have to hold the bronchoscope, which decreases the chance of movement and human error during the procedure. That’s essential when trying to biopsy nodules that are less than 1 centimeter in size.”
During a normal procedure, doctors use the bronchoscope to enter the patient’s lungs through the mouth and down through the airway. The scope can reach into the larger airways to biopsy nodules and lymph nodes, but is unable to get into smaller airways in the periphery of the lung that can be 2 centimeters in diameter or smaller.
Since lung cancer usually begins in the cells lining the very small airways or in the small air sacs in the peripheral lung, obtaining tissue from these areas with the Ion robotic-assisted catheter allows for early detection and a better chance of survival for patients.
Heavy smokers between the ages of 55 and 80 should be screened for lung cancer. Anyone who has quit smoking in the past 15 years should have a lung cancer screening as well. A low-dose CT scan can help catch the disease early when it is more treatable and curable.
Make an appointment for a lung cancer screening through your primary care physician or through MyGeisinger. 

About Geisinger
Geisinger is among the nation’s leading providers of value-based care, serving 1.2 million people in urban and rural communities across Pennsylvania. Founded in 1915 by philanthropist Abigail Geisinger, the nonprofit system generates $10 billion in annual revenues across 126 care sites — including 10 hospital campuses — and Geisinger Health Plan, with more than half a million members in commercial and government plans. Geisinger College of Health Sciences educates more than 5,000 medical professionals annually and conducts more than 1,400 clinical research studies. With 26,000 employees, including 1,700 employed physicians, Geisinger is among Pennsylvania’s largest employers with an estimated economic impact of $15 billion to the state’s economy. On March 31, 2024, Geisinger became the first member of Risant Health, a new nonprofit charitable organization created to expand and accelerate value-based care across the country. Learn more at or follow on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X.


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Mike McMullen
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