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Building Thoracic Care: Cutting-Edge Lung Cancer Surgery in Nebraska

surgical team

Dr. Erin Gillaspie, Chief of Thoracic Surgery, and her surgery team

In a groundbreaking medical achievement, Founding Chief of Thoracic Surgery at CHI Health and Creighton University, Dr. Erin Gillaspie, and her team performed one of the first double robotic lung cancer surgeries in the state of Nebraska.

The first part of the two pronged procedure involves the injection of dye into a small lung cancer nodule using robotic bronchoscopy, navigated by Dr. Gillaspie. That dyed area lights up and helps guide the boundaries of resection for the removal of the cancerous nodules via segmentectomy. This approach differs from traditional methods of removing the entire lobe of the lung, allowing the healthy tissue to be spared.

“When we give ourselves a map and use great instruments to replicate our movements, you get clear margins, which is great for the patient and their recovery,” Dr. Gillaspie said. 

In fact, Dr. Gillaspie’s patient was able to return home the very next day and celebrate the new year with family and friends.

“Thanks to major breakthroughs in research and technology, not only are we able to treat lung cancer more effectively, but we are identifying subsolid lesions, and can intervene sometimes before it turns into cancer,” Dr. Gillaspie said. 

Dr. Gillaspie was the first to perform this procedure in the state of Tennessee, where she spearheaded the robotic thoracic surgery program at Vanderbilt University. Now, with the success of her first case in Nebraska just a few weeks into her tenure at CHI Health, it’s clear why she was chosen to lead the thoracic program here.

“Part of my motivation for joining this program was that I saw CHI Health had the right people in place to really build and separate thoracic from cardiac care, and there were already tools and technology in place, and opportunities to really provide care to an underserved population,” Dr. Gillaspie said.

Together with oncology, research and surgical teams, Dr. Gillaspie is building a multidisciplinary destination for lung cancer treatments, clinical trials, esophageal procedures, chest wall reconstruction and more, with the goal of making CHI health a one stop shop for thoracic care.

Those looking to refer a patient, or collaborate with Dr. Gillaspie can reach out at (402) 399-9990 or email [email protected]

lung nodule image

ICG injected into lung cancer