Immediate Results Immediate Procedure and Caroll Shows No Signs of Lung Cancer

Though he’d quit more than eight years ago after smoking most of his adult life, Caroll Barger was worried that a lifetime around tobacco would make him the family’s latest casualty of lung cancer. Instead, groundbreaking robotic technology being used by TriHealth in the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer has made him his family’s latest survivor.

Barger’s family worked as tobacco farmers. He’s lost his father, two uncles and an aunt to lung cancer, and another aunt is a survivor, so when he began having pain in his side and back, he went to his primary care team at TriHealth Queen City Medical Group - Anderson to have it looked at. When a CT scan showed spots on his lungs, further testing was immediately ordered.

“They found it on accident. They thought it was just going to be kidney stones,” said Barger. “The team wanted to be aggressive and treat it as cancer based on my family history.”

Barger was referred to Craig Eisentrout, MD, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist with TriHealth Pulmonary Medicine and the lung program at the TriHealth Cancer Institute. A PET scan was ordered and one of the spots lit up. Barger didn’t know it at the time, but he would be a great candidate to become the first patient in the region to undergo biopsy and removal of cancerous nodules under single anesthesia using robotic technology.

Dr. Eisentrout uses the ION robot to insert a hollow catheter that allows very small instruments to pass through to areas of the lung that were often unreachable for biopsy without sometimes having to remove a piece of the lung. Those tools take samples in three or four different places to make sure it is getting what it needs for the biopsy.

“Pathologists come in during the procedure, so preliminary results are immediate,” said Dr. Eisentrout. “Caroll’s case was one the team thought would benefit from use of the ION procedure.”

If the biopsy shows the spot is cancerous, a second minimally invasive procedure is scheduled with a cardiothoracic surgeon like Doug Adams, MD a thoracic surgeon with the TriHealth Heart Institute.

Dr. Adams and his team perform a minimally invasive procedure using the latest da Vinci robot to resect any cancerous nodules from the lungs. This typically happens a couple weeks after the procedure and diagnosis from the ION robotic procedure, but after consultation, Dr. Adams and Dr. Eisentrout decided the single anesthesia approach would be best for Barger’s case.

“Our goal when we started the lung cancer screening program has been to minimize the time between diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Adams. “Doing both procedures under the same anesthesia is safe and reduces the amount of time a person has to be in the hospital.”

The physicians presented the plan to Barger and he was on board to be the first patient in the region to have both procedures done under the same anesthesia.

“I thought it was fantastic. Getting it all over at one time, I was all for it,” said Barger. “I didn't want to wait and go in a second time for another procedure.”

Both procedures successfully took place as planned on a Friday. Barger was discharged just a couple days later on Sunday. Instead of going back to the hospital two weeks later for a procedure to have nodules removed, Barger was back at work. He is also back on the treadmill building up strength.

“For a bad experience, these guys made it tolerable,” said Barger. “They got in there and did what they had to do and got me back on my feet.”

Tags Cancer , Innovation and Research , Prevention and Early Detection , Robotics