Tiny Tool Brings Doctors Big Picture

Topeka (WIBW) - Imagine trying to diagnose a problem with something you really couldn't see.

It's what doctors have dealt with for years when it comes to the bile ducts.

Dr. Brent Roeder of the Cotton-O'Neil Digestive Health Center describes the bile ducts as the highway that connects the liver, the gall bladder and the small intestine. That highway can encounter some road blocks, like gall stones or even cancers.

The opening is only about 3 to 8 millimeters, too small for previous scopes. Until now, doctors used xrays to make a best guess about what was going on and where. Roeder says they basically would have an outline of the bile duct system to evaluate to try to figure out what a problem was.

The Spyglass endoscopic system, however, gives them direct visualization.

It works with a traditional scope, only it's a lot smaller and it is very flexible. In it is a light source and camera, allowing doctors for the first time to actually see an area of concern. Not only that, they can also pass through tiny forceps and immediately take a biopsy of tissue while they're looking at it.

Previously, Roeder says, doctors had to give a best estimate of what the area was, so they may or may not get a sample of the correct area. Plus, it usually had to be done in a separate procedure.

The Spyglass also can address gall stones. Through Spyglass, doctors can send ultrasound waves to break up a large stone so it can pass. The Spyglass can also "wash" and area with saline and sunction out the material to give a clearer view of an obstructed area.

Roeder says the technology allows patients to have a beginning and an end. The Spyglass gives information they would previously explore several ways to get, sometimes going as far as surgery simply to get a diagnosis.

The Cotton-O'Neil Digestive Health Center just started using the Spyglass this week.

The center, by the way, was one of 32 recently recognized for excellence by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

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