Methodist Healthcare
November 19, 2019

Methodist Hospital is one of 15 facilities in the nation to perform robotic-assisted lung biopsy

San Antonio, TX — Methodist Hospital is one of only 15 centers in the country, and among just two healthcare facilities in Texas, to perform a minimally invasive peripheral lung biopsy using robotic-assisted technology. This major medical advancement offers doctors unprecedented stability enabling the precision needed for biopsy far into the peripheral lung and to more easily diagnose lung cancer earlier than ever before.

The robot features an ultra-thin, easily maneuverable catheter that can move 180 degrees in all directions, which doctors can navigate through small and tortuous airways to reach nodules in any airway segment within the lung. The robot’s flexible biopsy needle can also pass through very tight bends via the catheter to collect tissue in the peripheral lung, enabling a more precise biopsy and easier surgical experience for patients.

The robot is designed to access difficult to reach areas of the lung through natural openings, like the mouth. When used for lung cancer screening, it supports early diagnosis by sampling tissue from small nodules in hard to reach areas of the lung where previous tools and procedures were unable to reach.

“With the ability to go through the natural airways of the lung with this technology, there is no puncturing of the lung tissue from the outside of the lining of the lung,” commented pulmonologist, Ali Abedi, MD. “It becomes a safer way to approach some of these lesions that are in the periphery of the lung for patients who have fairly advanced underlying lung disease.”

Prior to this advancement, the preferred method to reach abnormal spots that were in the periphery of the lung was to use a live CT scan image and a needle, entering the chest wall and lung from outside the body; this presented a relatively high risk of injuring the lung tissue and causing the lung to collapse for some patients who had advanced lung disease with emphysema.

“We're always excited to be involved in new innovations in the field of pulmonology and interventional pulmonology. Not only will we be providing a valuable service for our patients, but we’ll also be participating in the development of this new technology. We will be able to collect data which will help us advance this procedure and make this type of sampling of lung tissue more efficient in the future,” stated Abedi.

Abedi and Napoleon Puente, pulmonologists with the Methodist Advanced Lung Center, conducted its first robotically-assisted lung biopsy procedure this month.