Revealing the Body's Blind Spot

February 4, 2009 5:50:18 PM PST
It's 25 feet long, more than three-times the size of an average person, yet the small intestine remained out of reach for doctors. A new tool is shining light on the body's blind spot, and it's saving lives in the process.With one wedding, two daughters and eight grandkids, 63-year-old Joan Goldsack thought she could blame her exhaustion on her busy life. She was really suffering from anemia, caused by internal bleeding.

"At one point I was in critical condition because of blood loss," Goldsack recalled to Ivanhoe.

Doctors suspected the problem was inside her small intestine, but navigating the organ is tricky. It's up to 25 feet long, with folds like an accordion. A new medical tool opens up the "blind spot" in the GI tract. The double balloon enteroscope uses two balloons -- one at the end of the scope, the other on a tube that slides over the scope. The tool passes through the patient's mouth, into the GI tract.

When inflated, the balloons grip sections of the small intestine and shorten it, giving doctors access to the entire organ.

"The small bowel can be pleated onto this overtube and trapped, and you use a series of pushing, pulling back, trapping; pushing, pulling back, trapping," Anthony Infantolino, M.D., a gastroenterologist at Thomas Jefferson University Medical Center in Philadelphia, Pa., told Ivanhoe.

The tool allows doctors to see the problems in the small intestine and fix them at the same time. In Goldsack's case, doctors used it to stop the bleeding, which prevented her from needing a major operation.

"So it really has revolutionized the investigation of the small bowel," Dr. Infantolino said.

Goldsack was able to go home after the two hour procedure. She now has the energy to keep up with her busy family.

Doctors say for most patients, double balloon enteroscopy is an outpatient procedure. The tool is also useful in removing polyps and detecting some early cancers. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Rick Cushman, Public Relations
Richard.Cushman@jefferson.edu
Gastroenterology Clinical Offices, (215) 955-8900

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


abc30 News Links:
Links to other news sections on our website.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Breaking News Alerts:
Click Here to Sign-Up for Breaking News E-Mail Alerts
Receive Breaking News alerts in your email inbox.


Click Here to Sign-Up for Text Message Alerts
Receive Breaking News alerts right on your cell phone.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Load Comments