Tampa General Celebrates 100th Robotic Bronchoscopy | Tampa General Hospital

Tampa General Celebrates 100th Robotic Bronchoscopy

Published: Feb 13, 2024

An innovative robotic bronchoscope called Ion continues to help doctors save lives and keep TGH at the forefront of lung cancer treatment.


Tampa, FL (Feb. 13, 2024) – Medical teams at Tampa General Hospital (TGH) have successfully demonstrated in 100 cases that a relatively new and minimally invasive robotic technique can improve and even save the lives of patients with various stages of lung cancer.


Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women in the United States, causing more than 127,000 deaths last year. Only prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women are more prevalent, according to the American Cancer Society. In January, Tampa General interventional pulmonologists conducted their 100th bronchoscopy using the Ion Endoluminal System, an automated platform for minimally invasive lung biopsies.

First used at Tampa General in May 2023, Ion is now proving to be a substantial weapon in the war on cancer,” said Dr. Alberto Goizueta, Tampa General’s medical director of Interventional Pulmonology, and assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.


“The Ion robot has unquestionably improved our ability to biopsy small peripheral nodules with excellent accuracy,’’ he said. “This has allowed us to diagnose patients with lung cancer much earlier, which ultimately leads to better outcomes. Our Thoracic Oncology team is extremely happy with the tool’s ability to improve our patients’ lives and we’re looking forward to using it for many more cases in the future.’’


Tampa General had projected 41 Ion cases in its first year, and 100 cases by the third quarter of the second year. However, “we’ve surpassed the initial projections and achieved 100 cases in just eight months,’’ said Dr. Sisir Akkineni, interventional pulmonologist at TGH and assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.


He added that Tampa General is committed to advancing lung cancer care by decreasing time to diagnosis for lung cancer to improve outcomes for patients.


Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the system is made by Intuitive Surgical, a California-based technology company specializing in minimally invasive care and robotic-assisted surgery platforms. It was designed to collect lung tissue samples safely and simply when nodules are small and located in the peripheral lung. Ion’s design makes it possible. The system consists of a catheter, vision probe, biopsy needle and computer console. It collects tissue samples for biopsies, even when the nodules or lesions are small and located in hard-to-reach areas of the peripheral lung − where more than 70% of tumors reside.

The ultra-thin, maneuverable catheter allows doctors to reach these lesions in all upper, middle and lower lobes of the lung, and with the precision and stability needed for accurate biopsies. Many patients currently require multiple biopsies prior to lung cancer diagnosis, which can add months to a patient’s journey to care. Unlike other techniques, Ion doesn’t rely on electromagnetic navigation, so it can be used in bronchoscopy suites and operating rooms without interfering with a magnetic field.


“It gives us three-dimensional, 360-degree access to everything inside the lungs,’’ Goizueta added. “It already is changing the way we do diagnostic and therapeutic procedures here at Tampa General. And because it’s non-invasive, the patient’s recovery time is minimal.’’ The implementation of Ion robotic bronchoscopy at Tampa General Hospital is part of a multidisciplinary strategy to combat lung cancer, working alongside thoracic surgery, medical oncology and radiation oncology at the TGH Cancer Institute.

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