Horizon thoracic surgeons complete Canada-first fluoroscopic navigation bronchoscopy using Illumisite technology

All New Brunswickers deserve accessible and quality health care and a positive patient experience, and this initiative is one example of how Horizon is committed to providing that every day

The thoracic surgery team at Horizon’s Saint John Regional Hospital are shown after recently completing the first-ever fluoroscopy navigation bronchoscopy procedure using Illumisite.

(SAINT JOHN) – Thoracic surgeons at Horizon’s Saint John Regional Hospital (SJRH) have completed a landmark procedure using technology acquired through an innovative fundraising initiative led by the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation (SJHRF).

Dr. Brian Johnston and Dr. Crispin Russell recently performed successful fluoroscopy navigation bronchoscopies using the Illumisite platform, a first-of-its-kind achievement in Canadian medicine and a significant step forward for lung cancer care in New Brunswick.

The Illumisite fluoroscopic navigation platform provides enhanced precision by providing surgeons with detailed, real-time imaging which provides a clear, digital roadmap to better locate and collect abnormal lung tissue, also known as nodules, for biopsies.

Dr. Johnston and Dr. Russell first pitched Enhanced Lung Cancer Care as part of Lions’ Den, the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation’s medical competition. After receiving the Community Choice Award, thanks to donor generosity, additional funds were secured to raise the total $425, 645 needed to support the purchase of the equipment which included the Illumisite technology.

“I’d like to sincerely congratulate Dr. Johnston, Dr. Russell and their teams for this significant achievement, which I am confident will make a profound impact in the care and treatment of lung cancer in our province for many years to come,” said Margaret Melanson, interim President and CEO, Horizon Health Network. “Additionally, I’d like to recognize the dedication, creativity and passion of the SJRHF for making exciting innovations like these possible through their tireless commitment to championing health care advancements for the Saint John area and for continuing to be such a valued partner.”

Fluoroscopic navigation technology is a minimally invasive procedure that allows clinicians to access difficult-to-reach abnormal lung tissue with greater accuracy, and also providing patients with a quicker recovery.

It uses GPS-like technology to guide endoscopic tools, making it possible to reach areas not accessible with traditional bronchoscopy. 

Illumisite functions by uploading information from a lung patient’s CT scan and provides real-time imaging that factors in the difference between the static CT scan and the dynamic breathing lung.

It provides an adjustment for CT-to-body discrepancies and enhances the visibility of the abnormal tissue, while also allowing the surgeon to guide endoscopic tools or catheters in the pulmonary tract and to place radiosurgical and dye markers into soft lung tissue to guide thoracic surgery.

Representatives from Medtronic – the Minnesota-based company which manufactures and provides training for the technology – were on-hand for the first procedures that took place with very encouraging results at SJRH earlier this spring.

The thoracic surgery team at SJRH is planning to perform four fluoroscopy navigation bronchoscopies using Illumisite each month, with room to grow in the future.

“This is a great example of donor generosity providing our physicians with the most advanced surgical tools. It also speaks to the role donors play in advancing healthcare innovations,” said Jamie Gallagher, President and CEO of the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation. “Being able to fund leading equipment and being the first in Canada to perform a surgical procedure with it is truly inspiring.”

Improving access to care, specifically surgical services, for New Brunswickers is a key priority for Horizon’s plan to ensure all New Brunswickers receive the quality care they need.   This plan consists of three other priorities, including the retention and recruitment of physicians, nurses and staff; improving overall patient experience; and improving patient flow at our health care facilities. Further details about Horizon’s four priority areas are available at HorizonNB.ca.  This initiative also supports the Government of New Brunswick’s provincial health plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action.


For more information contact:

Kris McDavid

Media Relations