HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center is first hospital in Arizona to perform revolutionary, minimally invasive robotic lung biopsy procedures


A technology to detect lung cancer earlier and improve outcomes

Scottsdale, Ariz. (May 5, 2021) – HonorHealth, a leading Valley healthcare system serving 1.6 million people in the greater Phoenix area, announced today that the Scottsdale Shea Medical Center is the first hospital in Arizona to perform a robotic-assisted bronchoscopy, with shape sensing technology, which is used to help diagnose lung disease.

The robot features an ultra-thin, easily maneuverable catheter that can move 180 degrees in all directions. Doctors can easily navigate small and tortuous airways with the fiber optic technology to reach nodules in any airway segment within the lung. The robot’s flexible biopsy needle can also pass through very tight bends via the catheter to collect tissue in the peripheral lung using real-time vision of the airway, enabling a more precise biopsy and easier surgical experience for patients.

“We are always excited to bring new innovations that will positively impact the care of our patients,” said Kim Post, executive vice president, chief operations officer at HonorHealth. “This revolutionary robotic platform will help our clinical teams detect lung cancer earlier and more accurately, which will directly impact their clinical course of care.” 

The unprecedented functionality of this robot provides stability and precision needed for biopsy far into the peripheral lung. Using a minimally invasive technique, it enables optimal lung navigation and produces more accurate biopsies. It then ignites the biopsy marker that allows doctors to biopsy the targeted area, track the number of biopsies and visualize alternative biopsy pathways.

“This technology offers a safer way to approach and navigate difficult areas in the periphery of the lung for patients who have fairly advanced underlying lung disease,” said Richard Gillespie, MD, thoracic oncology surgeon at HonorHealth. “With the ability to go through the natural airways of the lung with this technology, there is no puncturing, or disruptive means to the lung tissue from the outside of the lining of the lung.”

HonorHealth performs revolutionary lung biopsy procedure - first in AZ to do it

Before the procedure, a CT scan is taken to create a three-dimensional reconstruction of the patient’s airways and to detect the any lesions in the lungs. During the procedure, the three-dimensional pathway is displayed on a computer screen, next to a screen displaying live camera footage inside the lung. The virtual imagery serves as a reference point for doctors as they navigate the actual lungs.

The system will be used for lung cancer screening and early diagnosis by providing more access to small airways or hard-to-reach nodules that other technologies are unable to achieve, as well as for patients who are not surgical candidates but need biopsies to treat cancers. It will also reduce the amount of procedures over the long-term, improving overall patient outcomes.