On Feb. 24, the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital became the first VA medical facility to offer Veteran patients a new robotic-assisted, minimally invasive intervention for acquiring diagnostic biopsies of the lung.

The new Ion robotic system features an ultra-thin, extremely maneuverable catheter that allows pulmonologists to navigate farther into the lungs than ever before for extremely precise respiratory biopsies.

“We are very excited and proud to be able to offer this level of care to our Veterans,” said Satish Kalanjeri, MD. Kalanjeri is chief of Interventional Pulmonology at Truman VA. “We’ve been very active in modernizing our facilities and services. With this technology, we are able to provide a level of pulmonary care second to none.”


The new robotic system features a vision probe that directs the pulmonologist in real-time through airways in the lungs to specific target areas. A fiber optic sensor measures the patient’s breathing tubes hundreds of times per second to provide additional placement information.

A fully articulating catheter and flexible needle also make it possible for the device to move 180 degrees in all directions for precise biopsies and other diagnostic interventions.

The green line is the catheter going through the airways of the lungs, the gray tubular images

“We often prefer minimally invasive techniques because they usually result in fewer complications and quicker recoveries,” said Jeremy Johnson, MD, Chief of Specialty Care at Truman VA.

“However, even with endoscopic technology, we as pulmonologists have been limited as to how far into the airways of the lungs we can go for diagnostic purposes,” he added. “This new robotic platform allows us greater access to the airways of the lungs. It provides stability while sampling target lesions.”

Pictured above, Kalanjeri (right) and Johnson confirm the target location using a 3D Cone-Beam CT system and Augmented Fluoroscopy.

“This is a huge leap forward in pulmonary care,” said Patricia Hall, medical center director of Truman VA. “With this technology, we will be able to diagnose cancerous lesions earlier and with greater accuracy. I view the acquisition of this new system as just one example of our commitment to bringing innovative and advanced technologies to mid-Missouri for the benefit of our nation’s heroes.”

About Harry S. Truman Memorial Veteran’s Hospital

As an academic health center, Harry S. Truman Memorial Veteran’s Hospital commits to excellent patient care, education and research. Truman VA offers a full continuum of inpatient and outpatient health services. It serves Veterans from 43 counties in Missouri, as well as Pike County, Illinois.

Approximately 40,000 Veterans receive health care at Truman VA each year. Comprehensive services include primary care, medical and surgical specialties, behavioral health, physical and occupational therapy, pharmacy services and more.

As a referral center, Truman VA also provides cardiovascular care to include open heart surgery. Additionally, Truman VA outpatient clinic appointments exceed 400,000 visits annually. For more information, visit https://www.columbiamo.va.gov/.

Jeff Hoelscher is a public affairs officer for the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital.

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Published on Mar. 4, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 228


  1. Mike Plaskon March 16, 2021 at 10:30 am

    After reading some of the comments I first want to thank everyone involved in this new procedure. It will definitely help Doctor’s help Veterans with there medical healthcare. But as some have suggested availability is limited to this one facility at this time. When something like this breaks though we have to find ways though our resources to provide this service without the hardship of distant & travel & put on fast track so availability to Veterans to access won’t be constrain by limited access. How that can be accomplished I leave to those more qualified then I.

  2. john f walter March 12, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    I think it would be real good to thank all of the veteran care professionals for what they do each day. Its not their fault that many of us live in the middle of no where. God bless each and every one of them.

  3. Jill Heintzman March 11, 2021 at 5:47 pm

    Why put the hope of better care out to everyone when access is limited to a local area or even one VISN.

  4. Randy Nordby March 11, 2021 at 9:35 am

    Hey great for them. But what about the Walla Walla regional med center? They have no goddamn equipment of any kind. Hell they don’t even have doctors. Most of the providers are nurse practitioners, and most everything is farmed out to the community. Almost their entire mental health department is staffed by social workers – which are absolutely NOT mental health experts. I don’t care how many “idiots guide the therapy” coloring books they’ve filled out. Why do some “regional medical centers” get everything and others not get anything?

  5. Robert Arganbright March 10, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    Is this service available in Seattle VAH?

  6. Donald Harris March 10, 2021 at 8:36 pm

    I live in California. Is there any way I could travel to this facility in Illinois for this procedure? My local VA hospital does not have this capability. I have lung nodules. I am LUNGRADS4.

    Thank you

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