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Billings Clinic obtains new robotic scope to help identify lung cancer

Posted at 5:41 PM, Aug 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 13:46:38-04

BILLINGS- — Billings Clinic has gotten a new robotic scope that will help them detect lung cancer.

Doctors at Billings Clinic hope this piece of equipment will help them save more lives from lung cancer. Lung cancer kills more people annually than any other cancer and it is critical that its caught early.

“When you see something on a scan you can tell anyone it looks like you have lung cancer, you clinically have lung cancer, but now we can actually go in and biopsy it through a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that will tell them you indeed have lung cancer. Then, we’ll be able to really talk through the options they have for treatment going forward,” says Dr. Sarah Counts, a thoracic surgeon at Billings Clinic.

Counts says often people receive scans for unrelated things, and then doctors notice there's a possibility of lung cancer. With the new scope, a series of scans would be conducted which would then create a 3D image of the patient’s airways. This will help guide doctors using the scope to the correct destination more efficiently.

“The working channel is only 2.1 millimeters; we can pass little tiny instruments down into it. This goes all the way out to within about a centimeter and a half of the lung, an area we never could reach before,” says Counts.

Doctors hope that in the future, patients who are believed to have lung cancer can have it biopsied, and then removed within the same procedure. Because the scope is minimally invasive most patients would be able to handle both procedures back-to-back.

The closest scope with similar capabilities is over 500 miles away. The scope at Billings Clinic goes into use on Tuesday.