FirstHealth of the Carolinas has made history as the first health care system in the nation to participate in a clinical study with Intuitive Surgical’s Ion Endoluminal System.

Michael Pritchett, D.O., MPH, pulmonary specialist at Pinehurst Medical Clinic and director of the Chest Center of the Carolinas at FirstHealth, performed the procedure with the robotic system as part of a multi-center clinical study.

Intuitive Surgical’s robotic-assisted, catheter-based technology is designed to access hard-to-reach areas of the body through natural openings, like the mouth. When applied in the lungs, its aim is to enable early lung cancer diagnoses by accessing and sampling tissue from small nodules in difficult-to-reach areas.

“We are excited to have been selected as the first site for this groundbreaking clinical trial,” says Dr. Pritchett. “Intuitive’s Ion Endoluminal Robotic Bronchoscopy Platform may offer us advantages compared to conventional navigation bronchoscopy that we have been doing for many years. The ability to see much deeper into the lungs and have precise control over movements of the catheter could be a game changer for us in terms of accessing smaller nodules located in the outer portions of the lungs.”

Other sites participating in the trial include Massachusetts General Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Mayo Clinic and Henry Ford Hospital.

“It is an honor to be included in such prestigious company,” adds Dr. Pritchett. “We are clearly at the forefront of innovation here at FirstHealth.”

More information about this clinical study can be found at


Courtesy photo/contributed

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