How an Austin doctor is using robotic technology to check for lung cancer

Simple Health

AUSTIN (KXAN) — New robotic technology called The Ion Endoluminal System is helping Austin doctors diagnose lung cancer, and its one of the first of its kind in the area.

St. David’s South Austin Medical Center is the first hospital in Central Texas to use the device described as a tiny ultra-thin, catheter that can move 180 degrees in any direction to pass through small, difficult-to-navigate airways. A needle then passes through the catheter into the target area to remove lung tissue in the hardest-to-reach areas to send to a lab and check for cancer.

It’s something Dr. William Bartek said was a difficult procedure to do before the new technology and imaging system. 

“We can find these small lesions and make a diagnosis on them in early stages and if you can get a stage one lung cancer you have a 90% chance of curing this by cutting it out or radiation,” said Bartek, the medical director of pulmonology at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. He calls the new system “a game-changer.”

“It really is. One of the problems with lung cancer is there are no symptoms until it spreads or the lesions get large. I’ve done a little over 40 cases since February and looking over my cases, 10 patients have gone to surgery for a potential cure. That’s a big deal, I can’t say I’ve ever seen that before in my career,” Bartek said.

KXAN asked if the robotic technology is covered by insurance, Dr. Bartek said it depends on the insurer. He does have to get approval from the insurance company before using the device on the patient. 

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