robots in health care

Houston-area hospital performs first robotic-assisted lung surgery

This hospital has conducted a unique and innovative procedure using robotics. Photo via hcahoustonhealthcare.com

HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake performed its first peripheral lung biopsy using robotic-assisted technology this month, making it the first hospital in the area to perform the minimally-invasive and innovative procedure.

Pulmonologist Dr. Alfred Maksoud performed the first two robotically-assisted procedures on March 1 and was attended by thoracic surgeon Dr. Melissa Korb and pulmonologist Dr. Maher Dahdel.

The procedures were conducted via an ultra-thin, easily maneuverable catheter that's able to navigate tight airways and pass through tight bends. A three-dimensional module of the patient's lung (created prior to surgery through a CT scan) was displayed on a computer screen to serve as a reference point for the doctors, as well as a live camera footage inside the lung.

The technology allows doctors to now reach nodules in any airway segment in the lung and extract more precise biopsies from the peripheral lung areas.

It will make the treatment easier on patients, which traditionally would require a CT scan and needle inserted into the patient's chest wall from outside of the body to reach these abnormal spots. This presented high risks of lung collapses for those with advanced lung disease.

“The technology allows us to go through the natural airways of the lung, so there is no puncturing of the lung tissue from the outside of the lining of the lung,” Maksoud said in a statement. “It is a safer way to approach lesions that are in the periphery of the lung for patients who have fairly advanced underlying lung disease.”

Additionally, this technology will support early diagnosis of lung disease when used for screenings due to its ability to reach previously unreachable areas of the lung.

“Approximately 75 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in an advanced stage. Early lung cancer detection is imperative to increase the survival rate,” Todd Caliva, CEO at HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake, said in a statement. “We're excited to implement new innovations that allow us to enhance the level of care our patients receive.”

Houston-area hospitals have become hubs for robotic-assisted surgery in recent years.

Baylor St. Luke's has become a top cardiac robotics program since 2019. Meanwhile, others, like Houston Methodist, have developed AI technologies to simulate entire surgeries artificially with a goal of allowing surgeons to practice and plan their technique.

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Building Houston

 
 

Cemvita reported a successful pilot program on its gold hydrogen project in the Permian Basin. Photo courtesy of Cemvita

Houston-based cleantech startup Cemvita Factory is kicking things into high gear with its Gold Hydrogen product.

After successfully completing a pilot test of Gold Hydrogen in the oil-rich Permian Basin of West Texas, Cemvita has raised an undisclosed amount of funding through its new Gold H2 LLC spin-out. The lead investors are Georgia-based equipment manufacturer Chart Industries and 8090 Industries, an investment consortium with offices in New York City and Los Angeles.

Gold Hydrogen provides carbon-neutral hydrogen obtained from depleted oil and gas wells. This is achieved through bioengineering subsurface microbes in the wells to consume carbon and generate clean hydrogen.

Cemvita says it set up Gold H2 to commercialize the business via licensing, joint ventures, and outright ownership of hydrogen assets.

“We have incredible conviction in next-generation clean hydrogen production methods that leverage the vast and sprawling existing infrastructure and know-how of the oil and gas industry,” Rayyan Islam, co-founder and general partner of 8090 Industries, says in a news release.

Traditional methods of producing hydrogen without greenhouse gas emissions include electrolysis powered by renewable sources like wind, solar or water, according to Cemvita. However, production of green hydrogen through normal avenues eats up a lot of energy and money, the startup says.

By contrast, Cemvita relies on depleted oil and gas wells to cheaply produce carbon-free hydrogen.

“The commercialization and economics of the hydrogen economy will require technologies that produce the hydrogen molecule at a meaningful scale with no carbon emissions. Gold H2 is leading the charge … ,” says Jill Evanko, president and CEO of Chart Industries.

Investors in Cemvita include Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, an investment arm of Houston-based Occidental Petroleum, as well as BHP Group, Mitsubishi, and United Airlines Ventures.

Oxy Low Carbon Ventures and United Airlines Ventures are financing Cemvita’s work on sustainable jet fuel. United Airlines operates a hub at George Bush Intercontinental Airport Houston.

Founded by brother-and-sister team Moji and Tara Karimi in 2017, Cemvita uses synthetic biology to turn carbon dioxide into chemicals and alternative fuels.

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