Missouri Delta Medical Center Acquires ION Robot for Earlier Lung Cancer Detection

SIKESTON, Missouri: April 27, 2023 – Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer-related deaths, taking more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined (Lung Cancer Alliance Data). Missouri Delta Medical Center is pleased to announce the upcoming acquisition of the Ion endoluminal system. Ion is designed to address a challenging aspect of lung biopsy by enabling physicians to obtain tissue samples from deep within the lung. The Ion system features an ultra-thin, ultra-maneuverable catheter that allows navigation far into the peripheral lung, and unprecedented stability enables the precision needed for biopsy compared to manual techniques.

“Historically, more than half of the nodules are far out in the narrow periphery of the lungs,” says Muhammad Ehtisham, M.D., Pulmonologist at Missouri Delta Medical Center who is triple fellowship trained in pulmonology, advanced diagnostic bronchoscopy, and critical care medicine. “The ION will “drive” us to the peripheral lung lesion based on the prior CT scan and navigational map that is created, and the Radial EBUS (Endobronchial Ultrasound) will use the live view from ultrasound to help me locate the lung lesion. This technology will allow us to biopsy lung nodules and masses with improved accuracy and fewer side effects. This will get patients diagnosed with one procedure and referred to the appropriate treating physician quicker,” reports Dr Ehtisham.

While most small nodules are benign, there’s no way to know without a biopsy, which involves removing a tiny piece of tissue from the suspicious spot or nodule. The cells in the tissue are then examined under a microscope for cancer or other diseases.

“Being able to diagnose lung nodules early is especially important for the communities we serve,” says Dr. Paul Montany, general surgeon who is fellowship trained in thoracic and vascular medicine. Only 15% of lung cancer is diagnosed in its earliest and most curable stages before it is metastasized. When diagnosed at the earliest stages (1A-1), the average 5-year survival rate is 92%. Additionally, Missouri’s lung and bronchus cancer rates are higher than the national average. Missouri is ranked 45 worse among all states (American Lung Association).

“I am proud that Missouri Delta Medical Center is bringing innovative robotic-assisted bronchoscopy technology to our region. Our investment in state-of-the-art technology like the Ion Robot underscores Missouri Delta’s dedication to advancing health care. Our community deserves nothing less when it comes to fighting the number one cancer in the world,” says Jason Schrumpf.

By extending the physician’s reach, biopsies with Ion are faster and more accurate, which means patients are less likely to need a repeat procedure. Robotic bronchoscopes are small and incredibly flexible. This provides physicians with answers to someone with a small, hard-to-reach nodule. There are no pain receptors in the lungs, so the procedure is painless, though patients may experience a sore throat from the anesthesia process.

According to Dr Ehtisham, “Ion bronchoscopies are safer and more accurate because the robot gives unprecedented stability throughout the procedure. It offers a high degree of sensitivity for nodules in the far periphery of the lung.”

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks, which include bleeding, infection, and lung collapse. However, because the Ion bronchoscope is smaller and more flexible than traditional technologies, complication rates are significantly lower.

Ion complements Missouri Delta’s existing robotic technologies, which includes the da Vinci® Xi robot for general, gynecological and thoracic surgical conditions; the MAKOplasty® for partial knee and total hip and knee replacements.

“Our primary service area has above average incidence of lung cancer and higher prevalence of smoking compared to any other area in Missouri. This system will allow us to provide a diagnosis and stage lung cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages. Acquiring the ION robot is a big commitment for the organization, but the Ion’s potential to save lives for patients in Southeast Missouri is well worth the financial investment,” says Schrumpf.

“I appreciate Missouri Delta Medical Center being on the forefront of this technology and the leader in our region in this field. I have been working very closely regarding our Lung cancer program with our administration and leadership, especially Mr. Jason Schrumpf. I am grateful to him for his tremendous support in this initiative. This is a testament to his care and commitment to the community,” says Dr Ehtisham.

For lung cancer patients, Missouri Delta providers will work closely with other experts to provide the best treatments and outcomes. Moving forward, the Missouri Delta Chest and Lung Program has already implemented strategies of growth in their integrated service lines and plans to implement their comprehensive screening, diagnosis, staging, and treatment programs.

For more information on minimally invasive biopsy or to schedule an appointment, please contact us at (573) 472-7702 or visit missouridelta.com.

About Missouri Delta Medical Center: Missouri Delta Medical Center has been providing comprehensive medical care to the people of Southeast Missouri since 1948. Our medical providers specialize in a wide range of services, and our staff focuses on offering personalized, compassionate care. The main hospital is located in Sikeston on N. Main Street and within our Physician Services network we have 24 primary care and specialty clinics throughout Southeast Missouri, including Sikeston, Portageville, New Madrid, Charleston, Dexter, Benton and Chaffee. Missouri Delta and its entities are accredited by The Joint Commission. For more information, visit www.missouridelta.com.

How Does the Ion Work?

An Ion bronchoscopy is performed as an outpatient procedure while the patient is under general anesthesia. During the bronchoscopy, the physician guides a small, ultra-thin catheter through the patient’s airway to the suspicious nodule. Using a controller, the physician navigates the catheter, which can move 180 degrees in all directions and reach all 18 segments of the lung. To further enhance safety and accuracy, the catheter’s vision probe and shape-sensing feature provide a clear view of the nodule’s shape and location throughout the procedure. When the physician reaches the nodule, the catheter is locked in place. Using a thin, flexible biopsy needle that can navigate through narrow areas and around tight corners, the physician can remove a tiny sample of lung tissue.