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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 centimter 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 committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a research institute and the Geisinger College of Health Sciences, which includes schools of medicine, nursing and graduate education. With more than 25,000 employees and 1,700+ employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.


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