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How is the adoption of robotics enhancing patient outcomes in bronchoscopy?

Published Date: July 12, 2022

The bronchoscopy market has been receiving significant growth impetus in recent times, driven by the rising occurrences of lung-related diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition, notable technological advancements in the sector have been improving product outlook in key regions worldwide. Increasing investments by industry leaders towards advancing the field of robotic bronchoscopy have also been favorable for market growth in recent years.

Bronchoscopy refers to a procedure performed in the airways in the lungs directly via a thin and lighted tube i.e., a bronchoscope. This tube is inserted through the nose or mouth and moved down the throat and trachea/windpipe into the airways. Conventionally performed by medical professionals, this process has undergone substantial development to now include robotics. The integration of robotics in any medical procedure promises minimal human error, high accuracy, and better patient outcomes.


Robotic bronchoscopy has found extensive usage in the field owing to its various benefits in the diagnosis of lung illnesses. It has garnered considerable research focus in the past few years, which is also playing a vital role in shaping the future of the technology. The global bronchoscopy market size is slated to surpass a valuation of USD 4.3 billion by 2028, as per a report by Global Market Insights Inc.

An insight into robotic bronchoscopy and its applications

Robotic bronchoscopy or robotic-assisted bronchoscopy (RAB) entails the physicians using a controller to operate the bronchoscopy tube. The flexible tube utilized in robotic bronchoscopy is usually smaller than those used in traditional bronchoscopy. In RAB, the physician moves the small tube in a precise manner using the controller. This allows the physicians to access parts of the lung that might have been difficult to reach with traditional methods of bronchoscopy.

The increasing prevalence of cancer is likely to be a major factor influencing the demand for robotic bronchoscopy, as it is typically performed in patients diagnosed with a lung mass or nodule that requires biopsy to identify if it is cancerous or not. In the process, while the physician navigates the robotic system, a three-dimensional (3D) map of the patient’s lung comes up on a computer screen. The map enables the physician to see the exact location of the tube in the organ and where it needs to be. The tube then guides the physician to reach the nodule – akin to a GPS in a vehicle.

Additionally, robotic bronchoscopy assists physicians in getting samples of the mass. The tube used in the process has a small channel for collecting tissue samples i.e., a biopsy, from the lung that can be used for disease diagnosis, helping physicians determine if there are biomarkers, if the nodule is cancerous, and the type of lung cancer.

The results of the PRECISION-1 study published in March 2020 also found that the process indicated considerably better capacity to localize as well as puncture small PPNs (peripheral pulmonary nodules) than existing technologies. Thus, the potential of the innovative procedure to access, localize, and puncture small nodules located in the periphery of the organ has been lucrative for the penetration of the robotic bronchoscopy market.

How are industry leaders leveraging robotic bronchoscopy to improve patient outcomes?

While several companies have established their presence in the bronchoscopy market, Johnson & Johnson’s Auris Health, a prominent robotic medical company, has emerged a prominent industry participant with its Monarch Platform. The Monarch robotic surgery system allows surgeons to send an endoscope into the lungs and watch a live camera feed of areas in the organ that are difficult to access in a minimally invasive procedure.

The Monarch Platform merges three navigation technologies, viz., optical pattern recognition, electromagnetics, and robotic kinematic data. This combination helps triangulate bronchoscope location in the procedure and offer precise positional information to physicians who perform the bronchoscopy. Recently, in December 2021, the Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center (CBMC) located in Livingston, New Jersey, became one of the first U.S. hospitals to use the FDA-cleared Monarch Platform. Surging introduction of such novel technologies by industry participants is supplementing the overall growth of the robotic bronchoscopy market.

Robotic bronchoscopy industry growth during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 infection caused by SARS-CoV-2 resulted in various complications, including respiratory failure, pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Bronchoscopy plays a crucial role in diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary illnesses, particularly in patients who are diagnosed with severe pulmonary infection.

However, the application of the procedure in patients who were either confirmed or suspected of having been infected by the novel coronavirus was constrained owing to the potential airborne transmission risks of COVID-19 from aerosols that were generated in the procedure. During this time, reusable bronchoscopes were found to pose a risk of infection, which benefitted the single use bronchoscopes market – indeed this procedure surfaced as a possible solution for eliminating the risk of infection.

Robotic bronchoscopy also came to the aid of physicians as it allowed them to perform bronchoscopy remotely. This not only met the therapeutic and diagnostic needs of COVID-19 patients but also protected the physician from the infectious environment through spatial isolation. This, and many other benefits like more accurate cross-sectional imaging before biopsy that robotic bronchoscopy has demonstrated in recent years, have positively impacted the growth of the bronchoscopy market and the analysts project similar trends in the future.

Author: Anjali Mishra