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Beebe Healthcare Introduces Robotic-Assisted Navigational Bronchoscopy to Enhance Lung Cancer Care

Caption: From left to right registered respiratory therapists, Brad Ritzler Joanne Hoffman, Chris Steele, Angie Howard, Rudy Daisey, and Victor Banzon, MD, board-certified pulmonologist.


Beebe Healthcare is proud to announce that it is the first health system in Delaware to offer the Ion Endoluminal System.

The state-of-the-art robotic-assisted navigational bronchoscopy advances the possibilities for streamlined minimally invasive lung cancer care. The healthcare system acquired the new technology in March and began offering procedures in April at the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus.

Ion’s robotic-assisted navigational bronchoscopy is performed using an ultra-thin scope to examine lesions that are smaller and deeper in the lungs than traditional scopes are able to reach. With this technology, Beebe patients can undergo this procedure to identify possible cancerous tumors even sooner, which is critical to lung cancer care and survivorship.

In addition to the technology’s reach within the lung, the core benefit is that diagnosis and removal of lung cancer may be able to take place at the same time.

Patients are aware that nodules detected in the lungs during the procedure are analyzed on the spot, with collaboration from the physician and members of Beebe’s pathology team. If it is determined that the nodule is cancerous, it can be removed simultaneously in partnership with a thoracic surgeon. Meaning the patient can learn in the recovery room that the nodule was already medically addressed during the same sedation, and they can move immediately to the next phase of care in some cases.

“The traditional pathway to care for patients diagnosed with lung cancer requires many steps to get from the point of incidental finding to the point of treatment,” said Victor Banzon, MD, board-certified pulmonologist, who completed the first Ion procedure at Beebe. “Beebe’s use of robotic-assisted navigational bronchoscopy offers a linear pathway and streamlined approach that makes it possible for us to detect and treat cancer sooner in a minimally invasive approach. This is critical to patient outcomes.”

Ion Endoluminal System is manufactured by Intuitive Surgical Operations. ION is capable of documenting hundreds of measurements per second, to create a three-dimensional map of the lungs to guide the physician. It features steerable, flexible instruments that function like a GPS-system, making it possible for pulmonologists to access nodules in the lung that otherwise may be hard to reach.

Using this tool, physicians can reach further, with more precision and more stability. The procedure is performed with patients in deep sedation in order to minimize movement. The risk for complications is minimal, and patients are typically discharged from the hospital the same day following the 45- to 90-minute procedure, with throat soreness and minimal other symptoms.

“Beebe Healthcare is committed to providing care that is of the highest quality while also making the latest, most innovative, and advanced treatment options available for people who live, work, and visit in Sussex County. The introduction of robotic-assisted navigational bronchoscopy underscores that commitment and gives more people a reason to choose Beebe for their care,” said David A. Tam, MD, MBA, CPHE, FACHE, President & CEO, Beebe Healthcare.

Beebe has continuously evolved its care options for patients with lung cancer. Its Pulmonary Nodule Clinic is led by a multidisciplinary team of clinical experts who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, and who play an instrumental role in identifying patients who are considered high risk for development of the disease.

A report published by the American Lung Association confirms that someone in the United States is diagnosed with lung cancer every 2.5 minutes, and that 44 percent of those patients are considered “distant stage,” meaning the cancer has spread from the lungs to other organs. These statistics emphasize the importance of early detection, so that more lives can be saved.

“The incidence of lung cancer in Delaware remains above the national average. We want the residents of Sussex County to know that Beebe is dedicated to providing them with expert guidance and comprehensive care when it comes to detection and surveillance of suspicious lung nodules,” said Marisa Amaral, MD, board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon who leads Beebe’s multidisciplinary Pulmonary Nodule Clinic. “By investing in ION robotic technology, Beebe has established its position as the local leader for the detection of lung cancer at its earliest stage, and ultimately showing its commitment to providing the people of Sussex County with the best chance of a cure.”

Caption: From left to right registered respiratory therapists, Brad Ritzler Joanne Hoffman, Chris Steele, Angie Howard, Rudy Daisey, and Victor Banzon, MD, board-certified pulmonologist.