WVU Medicine Uniontown Hospital demonstrates new technology to diagnose lung cancer

Mark Hofmann/For the Observer-Reporter

Dr. Peter Kochupura, the pulmonary and critical care specialists at WVU Medicine Uniontown Hospital, gives a demonstration on the Monarch Robot. The state-of-the-art endoscopic platform safely obtains samples in a patient’s lungs to diagnose lung cancer.

A newer, safer option to diagnose lung cancer will soon be available to patients at WVU Medicine Uniontown Hospital.

On Friday, Dr. Peter Kochupura, pulmonary and critical care specialists at the hospital, held a demonstration of the Monarch Robot, a state-of-the art technology that integrates robotics, software, data science and endoscopy to travel into the lungs through a patient’s mouth and throat and safely obtain a tissue sample to diagnose lung cancer.

While there are a variety of diagnostic options currently available to diagnose lung cancer, they all have limitations in accuracy, safety or invasiveness, all of which can lead to false positives, false negatives or side effects like a collapsed lung or hemorrhaging.

The Monarch Platform uses a flexible robotic endoscope with better reach, vision and control due to the operator relying on computer-assisted navigation based on 3D models of the patient’s own lung anatomy.

It can also safely venture to difficult-to-reach and small peripheral nodules to obtain samples of suspected cancer.

“We can sample multiple areas of the lungs at once,” Kochupura said, adding that the patient is under general anesthesia, and the outpatient procedure normally takes about an hour.

More than 90% of people diagnosed with lung cancer do not survive the disease, in part because it’s often found at advanced stages, according to the hospital.

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death worldwide, often because it has no symptoms in early stages,” said Dr. David Hess, the president and CEO of Uniontown Hospital. “We are excited to offer a more hopeful future for our patients with lung cancer.”

Josh Krysak, the director of community and patient relations, said the hospital is still training staff and establishing patient cases for the new technology, but it could start being used on patients in the next couple of weeks.

Krysak added that Kochupura is one of the most experienced physicians in the country with the use of the Monarch Platform, having performed over 150 cases with the robot.

For more information on Uniontown Hospital, visit www.uniontownhospital.com

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