North Florida Regional Medical Center joins a select group of hospitals in the nation and is the first hospital in North Central Florida to introduce minimally invasive robotic bronchoscopy. The new technology improves the accuracy and precision of lung nodule biopsies, enabling pulmonologists and surgeons to diagnose lung cancer earlier than ever.

“It is not often that one experiences a game-changing technology in one’s career,” said Dr. Michael Jantz, Interventional Pulmonologist at North Florida Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine. “Robotic-assisted bronchoscopy has been one of those experiences for me. This technology will be a paradigm shift in how we biopsy small lung nodules. We now have the opportunity to more reliably diagnose lung nodules and make a diagnosis of lung cancer earlier, thus improving patient outcomes.”

The robotic-assisted bronchoscopy system features an ultra-thin, easily maneuverable catheter that can move 180 degrees in all directions, allowing physicians to navigate through small and winding airways to reach nodules in any airway segment within the lung. The system features a computer-assisted navigation component to help guide the catheter to the nodule, similar to a GPS system in a car. The system’s flexible biopsy needle can also pass through very tight bends via the catheter to collect tissue in the peripheral lung. These components enable a more precise and accurate biopsy and better experience for patients.

Most lung nodules are small and harmless. Some nodules, however, can be cancerous and will grow over time. Suspicious nodules larger than 8 millimeters may need to be biopsied. Previously, there were a few options to biopsy a lung nodule, including with a needle inserted through the chest into the lungs, a regular bronchoscope inserted into the airways with prior generations of navigation assistance, or with chest surgery to remove the nodule. But nodules at the outer edges of the lungs are hard to reach with previous bronchoscopy methods and there is a risk of lung collapse with a needle biopsy through the chest. With robotic bronchoscopy, a highly maneuverable robotic catheter is able to get to these distant areas with computer-assisted navigation.

The robot-assisted bronchoscope is the newest robot added to the comprehensive surgical robotic options at North Florida Regional Medical Center. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, visit Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine of North Florida.