Ozarks Healthcare announced that it is the first healthcare system in the region to implement Intuitive Surgical’s Ion Endoluminal Robotic Bronchoscopy Platform. This cutting-edge, robotic-assisted technology will enhance the care of patients with lung abnormalities, detect lung cancer earlier, and improve outcomes.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths. However, when diagnosed at the earliest stage, known as stage IA-1, the average five-year survival rate is 92 percent. Early-stage diagnosis can be difficult, as many patients may require multiple biopsies before receiving a lung cancer diagnosis, which can add months to a patient’s journey to care. 
One goal in designing Ion was to help shorten the patient journey by making it possible to reach and biopsy difficult-to-reach nodules in the peripheral lung, where more than 70 percent of cancerous lung nodules may be located.
Before this advancement, the preferred method to reach abnormal spots that were in the periphery of the lung was to use a live computed tomography (CT) scan image and a needle, entering the chest wall and lung from outside the body; this presented a relatively high risk of injuring the lung tissue and causing the lung to collapse for some patients who had advanced lung disease.
What is Ion?
The Ion is used to perform robotic-assisted bronchoscopy. It is designed to address a challenging aspect of lung biopsy by enabling physicians to obtain tissue samples deep within the lung.
“Ozarks Healthcare has chosen the Ion Robotic-Assisted Bronchoscopy System because it provides more reach, stability, and precision,” said Dr. Praveen Datar, board-certified pulmonologist at Ozarks Healthcare Heart and Lung Center. “One key advantage for patients is the ability to determine a diagnosis in one procedure.”
Before the procedure, a CT scan is taken to create a three-dimensional reconstruction of the patient’s airways and detect any lung lesions. During the procedure, the three-dimensional pathway is displayed on a computer screen next to a screen displaying live camera footage inside the lung. The virtual imagery serves as a reference point for doctors as they navigate the actual lungs.
During the procedure, an ultra-thin, robotically-driven scope is passed down a sedated patient’s throat and into the lungs. A camera inside the robotic catheter allows the doctor to view inside the lung from a computer screen. Once they reach the lesion, they get a tissue sample or samples if needed to biopsy. Real-time coordination with pathology can provide a diagnosis during the procedure.
“Our investment in state-of-the-art technology like Ion demonstrates our commitment to high-quality care by enabling patients to receive all care—from biopsy to surgery—at our healthcare system,” said Tom Keller, President, and CEO, Ozarks Healthcare. “We are thrilled to be a leader in this field and look forward to continuing to bring innovative robotic-assisted options to our community.”

For more information on minimally invasive lung biopsy at Ozarks Healthcare Heart and Lung Center, call 417-257-5950. The Ozarks Healthcare Heart and Lung Center is located at 1100 Kentucky Ave. in West Plains, and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To learn more about Ozarks Healthcare’s Heart and Lung Center services, visit https://www.ozarkshealthcare.com/services/pulmonology/.
About Ion Endoluminal Robotic Bronchoscopy Platform
Intuitive, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., is the pioneer and a global leader in robotic-assisted, minimally invasive surgery. At Intuitive, they believe that minimally invasive care is life-enhancing care. Through ingenuity and intelligent technology, they expand the potential of physicians to heal without constraints. Intuitive brings more than two decades of leadership in robotic-assisted surgical technology and solutions. It also develops, manufactures, and markets the da Vinci® surgical and Ion ™ endoluminal systems.
About Ozarks Healthcare
Ozarks Healthcare is a system of care encompassing primary care and specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation, behavioral healthcare, and home health services. While the 114-bed acute care hospital cares for more than 5,400 admissions, the health system has more than 364,000 patient visits annually in South Central Missouri and Northern Arkansas. For more information about Ozarks Healthcare, visit www.OzarksHealthcare.com.