The Lung Center at Mercy Medical Center (Baltimore, Md) is expanding to include Interventional Pulmonology (IP), according to an organization press release. The expansion will essentially double the size of Mercy’s current Lung Center with greater access for pulmonary patients. 

The expansion of the Lung Center will launch a comprehensive outpatient IP clinic encompassing a dedicated pulmonary nodule program, pleural disease clinic, improved lung cancer screening, and community outreach. Other new services include inpatient IP consultation, expanded thoracic surgery coverage, and advanced pulmonary OR services.

“Interventional Pulmonology will also feature the latest diagnostic technology, including Noah Medical’s Galaxy System, which enables robotic navigational bronchoscopy to enhance the early identification of lung cancer,” said board-certified interventional pulmonologist Sy Sarkar, MD, who will lead the subspecialty. 

“With the new bronchoscopy robot, we can reach potentially cancerous nodules and lesions in the lungs with far greater precision and accuracy than in the past.” Mercy is the first hospital in Maryland and one of only 25 medical centers in the nation to offer the Galaxy robot for lung patients. 

Albert J. Polito, MD, Medical Director of The Lung Center and Chief of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine at Mercy, said: “Interventional pulmonology is one of the most exciting fields in medicine right now because it uses cutting-edge technology to advance the care of people with many different lung conditions, including pulmonary nodules, lung cancer, pleural diseases, and advanced COPD. Minimally invasive procedures, such as robotic bronchoscopy and pleuroscopy, are central to Dr. Sarkar’s practice, and his skill and experience are unparalleled,” Dr. Polito said. 

According to Dr. Sarkar, these minimally invasive procedures are mostly performed in the outpatient setting and may add years to patients’ lives while reducing the cost of treating lung disease. “An interventional pulmonologist works closely with thoracic surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists to provide patients with diagnostic and treatment plans to deliver the best possible outcomes,” Dr. Sarkar explained. 

In addition to Dr. Sarkar, the Interventional Pulmonology team at Mercy includes certified registered nurse practitioner Michaela Casey, clinical nurse navigator Clara Yoder, and a dedicated OR team. 

“Lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancer deaths nationwide. Only 16 percent of patients with lung cancer are diagnosed at an early stage where the disease has a high chance of cure, so the importance of Interventional Pulmonology procedures in early diagnosis cannot be overstated,” Dr. Polito commented. 

While IP is the latest component of the Lung Center, the staff still continue to provide care for the broad spectrum of pulmonary conditions, including asthma, COPD, interstitial lung disease, sarcoidosis, neuromuscular disease affecting the lungs, and sleep disorders.