Robot Improves  Lung Cancer Detection

Robot Improves Lung Cancer Detection

Lung cancer, generally asymptomatic in its early stages, is often not discovered until it’s more advanced. But a new robotic device is helping to get a better look at suspicious lung nodules sooner and with less discomfort.

Traditionally, lung nodules are caught via CT scans and then biopsied with a surgical or radiological approach. Now there’s the Monarch Platform, which can go deeper into the lungs to examine nodules and biopsy them without invasive surgery, says D. Kyle Hogarth, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of bronchoscopy at UChicago Medicine.

Using a controller that looks like it’s from a video game system, Hogarth pushes a tiny, flexible camera probe through a patient’s mouth, farther into the lungs than prior bronchoscope technology allowed. From there, he can view the lungs more clearly and take samples from several parts of the lung. The procedure can be completed in as little as 20 minutes.

Technology is in progress for a flexible microwave catheter that would take the Monarch technology to the next level, treating cancerous nodules, says Hogarth, one of the first physicians in the U.S. to utilize the Monarch, which received FDA approval in 2018.

“Why wouldn’t I go down there, prove it’s cancer and then slide a microwave catheter down and destroy it?” Hogarth asks. “We’ll see even higher cure rates, and we’ll do it as an outpatient with no cutting.”