Aspirus Health now offering lung nodule clinic and robotic lung biopsies to increase lung cancer survival rates

Increasing the survival rate of lung cancer depends on early diagnosis. To improve the chances of survival for lung cancer patients, Aspirus Health has developed a lung nodule clinic that will combine early screening for at-risk patients with minimally invasive, robotic-assisted lung biopsies.


“It is important to diagnose whether lung nodules are cancerous as early as possible because it makes a significant difference in quality of life and survival rates of our patients,” said Dr. Bret Stysly, critical care and pulmonary medicine physician. “Lung nodules do not typically cause any symptoms and may go undetected, so it is important to have a screening process for at-risk patients.”


Aspirus Health’s new lung nodule clinic is located at Aspirus Wausau Hospital and brings together the knowledge and skill of a multidisciplinary team of thoracic surgeons, pulmonologists, radiologists, radiation and medical oncologists, and pathologists who collaborate to evaluate and treat all patients. The goal is to screen all patients who have a risk of developing lung cancer. If the lung screening indicates the presence of lung nodules, a personalized follow-up care plan is developed.


In October, Aspirus Health became just the second healthcare system in Wisconsin to perform robotic lung biopsies. Aspirus surgeons began using a platform called the Intuitive Ion to perform robotic-assisted bronchoscopy. The ultra-thin, flexible catheter in the Ion can be moved 180 degrees in all directions. It allows surgeons to navigate through very tight spots inside the lungs to collect nodule tissues that previously could not be reached.


“Early stages of lung cancer can be challenging to diagnose since tissue samples can be deep within the lungs and difficult to reach,” said Dr. Amanda Eilers, cardiothoracic surgeon. “The Ion robot has changed the game on our ability to reach these tissues for an early diagnosis. This is another example of the steps we take to make early diagnoses and provide better outcomes for our patients.”