Allina Health Abbott Northwestern Hospital is first in Twin Cities to perform groundbreaking lung cancer procedure

The 3 in 1 procedure speeds up diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Aug. 25, 2023) — It’s a first for the Twin Cities. A team at Allina Health Abbott Northwestern Hospital successfully completed an innovative procedure that allows it to diagnose and immediately begin treatment for patients suspected of having early-stage lung cancer. The procedure also reduces the number of times the patient has to go under anesthesia.

“The patient is coming to the hospital the day of the procedure, and they don’t know if they have cancer or not, but they know if their biopsy confirms cancer, we will convert immediately to the surgical portion and remove that cancer,” said Whitney Johnson, director, Abbott Northwestern Hospital Surgical Services.

Using robot-assisted technology, the team is able to biopsy the lung nodule and test it. If the nodule is negative for cancer, the patient will immediately be told when their anesthesia wears off. If the diagnosis is cancer, the team will ensure the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes and remove the cancerous mass while the patient is still under anesthesia. Typically, a patient would have to go through all three of those steps separately – possibly going under anesthesia more than once and waiting weeks to months before having the cancer-removal surgery.

“The greatest benefit is that our patients don’t have to wait. If they qualify for this single-anesthesia procedure, they will have their answer and possibly their surgery two weeks from the discovery of the nodule. That allows them peace of mind,” said Dr. Eric P. Anderson, MD, the thoracic surgeon who performed this first robot-assisted procedure in the Twin Cities.

Patients must meet specific criteria for the single-anesthesia procedure. This is for patients suspected of having an early stage of lung cancer after a nodule is detected on their lungs through an Xray or CT scan. The size of the nodule, as well as their overall health and lung function are taken into account. The team at Allina Health Abbott Northwestern Hospital has successfully completed three of these procedures to date. The first was May 25, 2023.

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A nonprofit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospital campuses, 14 retail pharmacies, and many specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, and emergency medical transportation services. Learn more at and join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.