Doctors are using a new procedure called endoscopic ultrasound. The minimally-invasive procedure lets doctors see some of the most hidden areas inside the body.
With traditional endoscopy, doctors pass a thin flexible scope through the mouth and into the gastrointestinal tract. A tiny monitor sends back live images. The new techology adds ultrasound letting doctors examine areas that have been off-limits except for surgery.
"Any growths that are close to the bowel wall, we can access," said gastroenterologist Dr. Rig Patel of Raleigh Community Hospital.
Doctors can look behind the heart and inside the intestines, pancreas and kidneys.
"It will often pick up more advanced disease than the CAT scan can pick up," Patel said.
If there is a tumor, doctors can remove a piece of it for testing. They also use endoscopic ultrasound to see what stage a tumor is and if treatments are working.
"We can use this technology to measure the response to say chemotherapy or radiation therapy," Patel said.
The procedure is a little uncomfortable but not painful. For most patients, it is a better option than surgery. Patients are given medication to make them more comfortable during the procedure.
Endoscopic ultrasound is fairly new, but more hospitals are starting to use it.
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