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Reaching Beyond Boundaries for Earlier Diagnosis

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Robotic-assisted bronchoscopy system improves accuracy and earlier diagnosis for lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Analyzing suspicious nodules or areas in the lung as soon as possible is a critical step for patients to receive a diagnosis and begin treatment. Shannon Medical Center now offers a new robotic bronchoscopy system called Ion, which uses minimally invasive, advanced technology to increase the accuracy and precision of diagnosing cancerous and non-cancerous nodules within the lungs.

Pulmonologist Kenneth A. Perret, MD, FCCP, Director of Pulmonary and Critical Care at Shannon Medical Center, says Ion will greatly improve bronchoscopy procedures for patients.

“Previously, bronchoscopies relied on large scopes and x-rays to help guide a needle through a patient’s lung to sample nodules,” said Dr. Perret. “These procedures carried increased risks of complications to patients with severe COPD and other lung diseases. Ion robotic bronchoscopy lessens these risks and, with improved accuracy, ensures we get a diagnosis with a single procedure.”

Early cancers most often start in the outer areas of the lung, and catching lung cancer in the earlier stages gives patients improved success in treatment and better long-term outcomes.

“The airways within the lungs are small and become even smaller in the outer area of the lungs. Traditional bronchoscopy is limited in this area, but Ion allows us to reach anywhere in the peripheral airways,” says Dr. Perret.

Ion combines the precision of artificial intelligence (AI) and fiber optic sensors with state-of-the-art stabilizing technology. Using it means there is less room for error when collecting biopsies. Accurate biopsies give patients and providers the answers they need quickly, without the stress of repeated procedures if other biopsies are needed.

During the Ion robotic procedure, specialists can also biopsy lymph nodes during the same procedure when nodules are biopsied. When the two biopsies are collected together, specialists like Dr. Perret can obtain a diagnosis and stage the cancer with only one procedure.

Keeping Oncology Care Local

The Ion bronchoscopy system will work in tandem as part of a multi-disciplinary clinic where oncology, radiation, thoracic surgery, radiology and pathology can work together and get patients on a treatment plan sooner.

With 300 units in the United States (40 of them in Texas), the Ion system is an exciting improvement for patients needing bronchoscopies in the Concho Valley and beyond. For Dr. Perret, adding Ion to Shannon’s oncology program is an effort to keep oncology care local and reduce stress on patients.

“We are dedicated to providing high-quality care in the Concho Valley so patients have access to the same procedures that are available in larger cities," Dr. Perret said. "More importantly, an earlier diagnosis means earlier care, which gives us more potential cures and gives patients a better outcome.”

Contact your primary care provider if you have any concerns regarding coughing, shortness of breath or pain in the chest.

For more information regarding the Ion Robotic Bronchoscopy system, contact Shannon Pulmonology at 325-747-2158 or visit