Study: Intuitive Surgical’s flexible robotic system safe for lung biopsy

Intuitive Surgical has dominated the robotic surgery space with its da Vinci system for minimally invasive procedures.

Intuitive Surgical, known for its da Vinci systems for robotically assisted surgery, is dipping a toe into diagnostics. The company has unveiled a study showing its new flexible robotics platform could be used safely to take lung tissue samples for biopsy.

The safety and feasibility study took place at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in Australia. It evaluated the use of new, investigational robotic-assisted system in the lungs and appears in the journal CHEST.

The investigational device is designed to access difficult-to-reach areas in the body via its natural openings, such as the mouth. Intuitive aims to use it to for the early detection of lung cancer by sampling small nodules in the lungs.


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The study involved 30 patients, the majority of whom had nodules that were smaller than two centimeters in diameter and were located in the bronchi. In 29 of the 30 patients, the device succeeded in taking biopsy samples that were suitable for tissue diagnosis.

“I was able to reach nodules in the peripheral lung that I wouldn’t have been able to reach before,” said Dr. Fielding. “The robotic-assisted technology in sampling facilitates diagnosis at a stage in which most patients wouldn’t yet know that they have cancer. Early diagnosis should allow us to start care plans for patients earlier and offer curative treatments.”

Last June, Auris Surgical Robotics, another robotics company founded by Intuitive founder Frederic Moll, earned FDA clearance for its Auris Robotic Endoscopy System. The device is bronchoscope for the visualization and treatment of lung conditions.

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