State-of-the-art robotic technology is giving patients at NorthBay Health earlier and more accurate diagnosis of small and hard-to-reach nodules in the periphery of the lung.
NorthBay Pulmonologist Karan Julka, M.D., performed NorthBay’s first two lung biopsies on patients using the Auris Health Monarch™ Platform Aug. 18. The technology integrates the latest advancements in robotics, software, data science and endoscopy. NorthBay Medical Center is among the first hospitals in the United States to utilize the platform and is the only facility in Solano County offering the procedure.
“This technology is an exciting advancement in care available at NorthBay,” said Julka. “With this system, we can see and biopsy remote parts of the lung that were previously inaccessible.”
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, he noted, in part because it has no symptoms in its early stages. “Because the Monarch Platform provides improved reach, vision and control for bronchoscopic procedures, it holds potential to help us to make a diagnosis earlier,” Julka said.
“It’s a game-changer,” agreed Leslie Schrader, R.N., who assisted in the first two patient procedures.
Julka and the endoscopy team team went through specialized training earlier this month. Days before the first two patients underwent their Monarch robotic-guided bronchoscopies, the team spent hours at NorthBay Medical Center working out details of how the room and equipment would be properly set up and taken down before and after the procedures.
“It’s a lot more equipment and supplies and it’s very different than bronchoscopy has been,” said Schrader. “It is a very intuitive system, though, which makes it easier with training. The equipment actually includes explanations at each step so the technology is very supportive.”
More than 90% of people diagnosed with lung cancer do not survive the disease, in part because it is often found at an advanced stage. There are a variety of diagnostic options currently available for lung cancer, but all have limitations in accuracy, safety or invasiveness. These limitations can lead to false positives, false negatives or side effects such as pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and hemorrhage, which may increase health care costs and extend hospital stays.
The Monarch Platform uses a familiar controller-like interface that resembles a video game controller and allows physicians to navigate the flexible robotic endoscope to the periphery of the lung with improved reach, vision, and control. Combining traditional endoscopic views into the lung with computer-assisted navigation based on 3-D models of the patient’s own lung anatomy, the Monarch Platform provides physicians with continuous bronchoscope vision throughout the entire procedure.