Ascension Via Christi Lung Screening program using ION robot to help reach, identity lung cancer earlier | Ascension

Ascension Via Christi Lung Screening program using ION robot to help reach, identity lung cancer earlier


Because lung cancers can be curable when discovered while still small and localized, Ascension Via Christi invested in a robotic-assisted platform that can locate and reach nodules as small as 8 millimeters.

Abdel-Ghanie Abu-Samra, MD, performing a procedure for the Lung Nodule Clinic

Intuitive's ION robot, which can reach areas of the lung not achievable with previous tools and procedures to collect tissue samples from small nodules, has now been used with 50 patients since its introduction in mid-November 2022.

"Some patients have limited avenues for identifying the cause of their abnormal lung lesions," says interventional pulmonologist Thamer Sartawi, MD, who was the first to use Ascension Via Christi St. Francis' ION robot to perform minimally invasive peripheral lung biopsies on patients for whom a CT-guided biopsy was not a viable option. "For these patients, it provides an excellent alternative with a lower risk for complications, allowing us to safely diagnose cancer at an earlier stage and with a great deal of confidence."

In turn, this allows patients' to get treatment started sooner, which studies have shown to lead to better outcomes, say Ascension Medical Group Via Christi pulmonologists Abdel-Ghanie Abu-Samra, MD, Youssef Yammine, MD, and Raid Abu-Awwad, MD, who have also been using the system with success.

“The ION robotic bronchoscope system’s thin, maneuverable catheter allows navigation deep into the lung with very high precision,” says Dr. Abu-Awwad. “Combined with endobronchial ultrasound, it also allows us to do lymph node staging in the same setting, limiting the number of procedures done and shortening the patient’s path to treatment.”

Ascension Via Christi Cancer Center added a second dedicated lung cancer nurse navigator to its Wichita-based Cancer Outreach and Risk Assessment team, which last year coordinated low-dose CT lung cancer screenings for more than 1,300 patients.

In August, Ascension Via Christi opened a lung nodule clinic on its St. Francis hospital campus, where a multidisciplinary team of lung and cancer specialists work together to develop and quickly implement a treatment plan for patients with cancerous lung lesions.

“We're continuing to build upon our position as a regional Center of Excellence for treating lung cancer," says cardio-thoracic surgeon Brett Grizzell, MD, medical director for Ascension Via Christi’s low-dose CT lung screening program. "The lung nodule program was an important step in ensuring patients’ access to prevention and treatment.”

Dr. Grizzell and Dr. Abu-Samra serve as medical directors for the Lung Nodule program.

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