• By Vivien Williams

Mayo Clinic Minute: How robotic-assisted bronchoscopy benefits patients

January 13, 2020

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that lets doctors examine your lungs, treat conditions and biopsy nodules to check for cancer. Doctors at Mayo Clinic are using robotic assistance to make the procedure more precise. 

Dr. Karen Swanson, a Mayo Clinic pulmonologist, explains more about robotic-assisted bronchoscopy and how the technology benefits patients.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video (0:59) is in the downloads at the end of this post. Please "Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.

Dr. Swanson uses a gaming controller to drive the robotic-assisted bronchoscope. With the scope, she can see inside a patient's lungs and biopsy a worrisome nodule.

"Biopsying those nodules is important to get a diagnosis," says Dr. Swanson.

Robotic scopes are smaller and more flexible than standard scopes. They also provide better vision.

"(It allows) us to see things in the distal airways that we honestly have never seen before because the scope has never been able to get there before with good optics," says Dr. Swanson.

The technology helps doctors be more precise, and it allows them to get bigger tissue samples. 

"We need to get more and more tissue to assess molecular characteristics of a particular tumor type," says Dr. Swanson.

Knowing tumor type allows them to tailor treatment for each individual patient. Robotic-assisted bronchoscopy also may lead to new, less-invasive ways to treat lung tumors.

"That's the holy grail, if you will," says Dr. Swanson.

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