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Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital West is the first hospital in Tennessee to acquire the Ion Endoluminal System, a robotic-assisted platform for lung biopsy that is less invasive and more precise than traditional methods.

Biopsy has long been a crucial tool in the diagnosis of lung cancer, the leading cause of all cancer-related deaths. Traditionally, doctors have performed lung biopsy by holding a catheter in position with one hand while gently working with the other hand to collect tissue for examination. ION increases stability and efficiency by using robotic assistance to drive a thin, flexible catheter through the patient’s throat and down into even the hardest-to-reach segments of the lung. The catheter is equipped with a small camera that provides the doctor with real-time 3D imaging on a correlating computer screen.

“Our investment in the ION Endoluminal System comes just as the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) expands their recommendations for lung cancer screenings. The updated USPSTF recommendation includes annual screenings for anyone ages 50 to 80 who has smoked one pack of cigarettes a day for at least 20 years or two packs of cigarettes a day for at least 10 years,” said Dr. John Howington, Chief of Oncology Services and Chair of Thoracic Surgery, Ascension Saint Thomas. “This new guidance nearly doubles the number of people in the United States who are eligible for lung cancer screenings.”


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