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If you’ve recently been told that you have a lung nodule, a lung mass, or that there is a “spot” on your lung, you may feel a lot of uncertainty about what that means and what you should do.
Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Early diagnosis and treatment often lead to better outcomes.
New Technology Assists in Catching Lung Cancer in its Early Stages
UM Capital Region Medical Center is the first hospital in Prince George’s County to perform robotic bronchoscopy, also known as robotic-assisted bronchoscopy. The procedure is used to biopsy lung nodules to detect the presence of lung cancer and other lung diseases.
In traditional bronchoscopy, a doctor manually guides a thin tube, called a bronchoscope, into the patient’s mouth or nose, down the throat, past the vocal cords and windpipe, and into the passageways of the lungs.
The bronchoscope is equipped with a light, camera, and biopsy tools that allow doctors to visually examine and biopsy nodules.
Like traditional bronchoscopy, robotic-assisted bronchoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to biopsy nodules in the lungs.
The difference is that in robotic-assisted bronchoscopy, the doctor uses a controller at a console to operate a robotic arm.
The robotic arm guides a catheter—a thin, flexible, and maneuverable tube equipped with a camera, light, and guidance technology—through the patient’s airways.
During the procedure, the robotic arm’s precise movements enable doctors to accurately direct the catheter around tight turns in the airways and into the hard-to-reach areas of the lungs.
This means doctors can examine and biopsy suspicious nodules—and potentially detect cancer—in parts of the lungs that may be inaccessible with traditional bronchoscopy.
What’s more, the procedure is safe—serious complications are rare—and recovery is usually quick.
Bringing Advanced Care to Prince George's County
"As part of the comprehensive pulmonary program here at UM Capital Region Health, we are now able to offer patients the option of this robotic procedure,” said interventional pulmonologist, Dr. Ashutosh Sachdeva.
Dr. Sachdeva and his colleague, Dr. Van Holden, together performed the first robotic-assisted bronchoscopy at the hospital on March 2, 2023.
“This robotic technique allows us to biopsy lung nodules and masses with improved accuracy and minimal side effects, in addition to lymph node biopsies that we already do. This will get patients diagnosed and referred for a timely treatment. We are excited to bring the world-class care locally to help our patients in the community.”
Advantages of Robotic-Assisted Bronchoscopy
The key benefits of this newer technology compared to previous testing include:
- Ability to detect nodules smaller than 2 cm in diameter
- Ability to sample lesions in difficult-to-reach areas of the lung for biopsies
- Earlier-stage lung cancer diagnoses and increasing survival rates
- Outpatient procedure, quicker recovery
Should You See a Doctor?
Talk with your doctor if you have any symptoms of lung cancer, like a new cough that doesn't subside, changes in chronic cough, shortness of breath or coughing up blood.
Then ask a pulmonologist or oncologist if robotic-assisted bronchoscopy is right for you.