Virus Doesn’t Stop Local Physician From Being The First To Perform New Lifesaving Procedure In South Florida

Dr. Adam Wellikoff using the video game-like remote control to operate the Monarch Platform robot.

It’s the first time a new lifesaving technology has ever been available in South Florida and the first time on-site physician training has ever been done. Add these to the growing list of firsts brought about by COVID-19.

Wellington resident Dr. Adam Wellikoff, an interventional pulmonologist at Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida (PCSI), successfully completed training at JFK Medical Center on a remote controlled robotic assisted biopsy device that will allow him to reach locations in the lung that have traditionally been inaccessible by bronchoscopy, until now.

“The robot is important because it helps us diagnose and treat cancers early. Early diagnosis is important because that is the only thing that improves survival. The earlier the cancer is detected, the more treatment options are available,” said Wellikoff, who also happens to be the first board-certified interventional pulmonologist in Florida.

Saving the lives of lung cancer patients requires accessing those hard-to-reach places.

“Smaller, more difficult-to-reach lesions are able to be accurately diagnosed and, therefore, treated,” he said. “This has the potential to literally save lives.”

The robot, called Monarch Platform, is operated via a video game-like controller and utilizes a flexible robotic endoscopy to navigate through the periphery of the lungs with improved vision, reach and control. Combining traditional endoscopic views into the lung with computer-assisted navigation based on 3-D models of the patient’s individual lung anatomy allows the physician to access and biopsy locations of the lung with precision guidance.

“We are committed to providing continued training on the Monarch Platform during this unprecedented time of COVID-19, as we remain dedicated to enabling earlier diagnosis and treatment of lung disease,” said Eric Davidson, the company’s vice president of marketing and sales. “As the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, we know that lung cancer doesn’t wait.”

Training is typically done at the Auris Health headquarters in California. Wellikoff is the first physician in the company’s history to be trained off-site, locally.