Endoscopic services at MedStar Health use the latest technology to help diagnose and treat gastrointestinal illnesses.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
ERCP is a highly specialized technique that combines endoscopy with contrast dye to examine the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and the network of ducts that carry digestive fluids.
In addition to its diagnostic importance, ERCP also can be used to treat certain conditions immediately. These treatments, however, require the experience of experts as ERCP is a highly specialized. During an ERCP, if a blockage is found in any of the ducts, your physician may be able to use one of the following tools to remove or relieve the obstruction:
- Sphincterotomy, in which your physician cuts the muscle sphincter of the bile or pancreatic duct to remove gallstones.
- Duct dilation and stenting, in which your physician uses a balloon catheter to stretch a narrowed opening. MedStar Health experts use endoscopes to place stents in the esophagus, duodenum, and colon that help by propping open areas blocked by tumors or other obstructions.
- Cholangioscopy, in which a small scope is used to examine the bile duct and pancreatic duct and deliver treatments under endoscopic control.
- Biliary lithotripsy, which allows your doctor to destroy gallstones trapped in your bile ducts.
Enteroscopy (Small Bowel Endoscopy)
The small intestine is roughly 25 feet long. To examine it requires specialized techniques and long instruments known as enteroscopes. An enteroscopy allows the visualization of the entire length of the small intestine using balloon and double balloon technology, which can allow your physician to identify the cause of unexplained gastrointestinal bleeding, small bowel tumors, and other possible conditions.
Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) and Fine Needle Aspiration
EUS combines endoscopy and ultrasound, which uses sound waves to generate an image on a monitor. A tiny ultrasound transducer is mounted on the tip of the endoscope, allowing the physician to obtain high-quality ultrasound images from inside the body. Our extensive expertise in endoscopic ultrasound can be used to:
- Detect, biopsy, and stage tumors anywhere in the GI tract
- Assess esophageal, gastric, pancreatic, and rectal cancers
- Detect common bile duct stones
Additionally, under ultrasound guidance, a fine needle can be passed down the endoscope into an enlarged lymph node or suspicious mass. The needle removes tissue from these sites, which a pathologist can evaluate for diagnosis.
Interventional Endoscopic Ultrasound
Interventional endoscopic ultrasound is used to treat pancreatic disease in various ways, including:
- Cyst drainage
- Placement of fiducials (small metal guides placed in and around tumors for radiation therapy)
Wireless Capsule Endoscopy (Pill Camera)
The patient swallows a vitamin-sized capsule that contains a camera, a light, batteries, and a transmitter. The capsule passes through the small intestine via the same muscle contractions that carry food, snapping two photos per second and transmitting them to a pager-sized receiver worn around the waist.
This new technology at MedStar allows physicians to see the entire length of the GI tract that cannot be visualized using the traditional endoscopic approach.
Endoscopic techniques for treating gastrointestinal cancers
Argon Plasma Coagulation (APC) is an advanced approach that uses an endoscope to deliver a burst of heat to a lesion. It can treat tumors in the stomach, esophagus or intestine and is a faster, simpler alternative to other laser treatments.
Endoscopic Mucosal Resection is used to treat and remove pre-cancer lesions or early cancer in the gastrointestinal tract.
Colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon). A thin, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and entire colon to find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps).
Often, colon cancer presents no noticeable symptoms in the early stages, which is why screenings such as colonoscopies are very important—in these early stages that this form of cancer is most treatable.