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Lee Health’s Robotic Platform Detects Lung Cancer Quicker than Traditional Methods

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Lee Health has performed 226 robotic-assisted bronchoscopies since last December

(Fort Myers, Fla. - Nov. 29, 2023) --- Lee Health has added the Intuitive ION robotic-assisted bronchoscopy platform to its robotics program. The robotic platform enables physicians to perform minimally invasive lung biopsies on patients to help detect lung cancer sooner.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and early detection is key in improving someone’s chances of survival.

Since last December, Lee Health has performed 226 robotic-assisted bronchoscopies with the ION and 90% of those procedures resulted in a diagnosis. Sixty-two percent of the first 50 patients were diagnosed with lung cancer and of the patients who were diagnosed, 51% were caught early enough for surgical intervention. 

The ION has an ultrathin, ultra-maneuverable catheter that allows physicians to reach small lesions of the lung. The ION also offers more range of motion and stability that allows the physician to aim the catheter at small targets, even if they’re located outside the airway. 

The procedure for performing a lung biopsy through the ION system involves navigation software to plan the path based on a previous low-dose CT scan. The physician then uses a console to reach the nodule and confirms the location of the lesion and catheter using an intra-procedure CT scan. Once the location is confirmed, the physician secures the catheter in place to take the lung samples.

“The ION will help us save lives through earlier detection of lung cancer, and we are pleased to be able to offer this new technology to our patients,” said Dr. Juan Ibarra, program manager for robotics surgery at Lee Health. “At Lee Health, we are committed to caring for our community, and we will continue to grow our robotics program to help us further improve the quality and outcome of our patient care.”

Because of this new technology, the ION can help diagnose cancer in the lungs much sooner than a typical trans-thoracic needle biopsy. 

Toni Lee underwent a bronchoscopy with the ION and she’s glad she did because her doctor caught stage one lung cancer early when chances of survival are much greater.

“I am so thankful to Dr. Kapadia and the entire team. They made what is normally a scary diagnosis of lung cancer so easy and seamless to deal with. I can’t believe the ION caught the cancer in stage one when even the PT scan was negative,” Lee said. “Early detection is key, and it makes a huge difference. The ION is the reason I’m still here today.”

The addition of the ION complements Lee Health’s robust robotics program, which includes several advanced robotic systems, such as the ExcelsiusGPS®, which is used for minimally invasive spine and brain procedures, three ROSA® orthopedic robots for knee and hip replacements, two AquaBeam® for Aquablation® Therapy of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), two da Vinci SP Surgical Systems for single incision urologic and ear nose and throat procedures, and 17 da Vinci Xi, which help surgeons perform minimally invasive surgeries for colorectal surgeries and unique surgeries in the areas of gynecology, urology, and general surgery.

To learn more about Lee Health’s robotic surgery program, visit

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