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What conditions can now be treated endoscopically?

Some early stage cancers and polyps that would have previously required surgical removal can now be treated endoscopically, notes V. Raman Muthusamy, MD, associate clinical professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and director of interventional endoscopy. In some advanced cancers, stents can relieve obstructions for patients with tumors blocking the gastrointestinal tract. Interventional endoscopists are accessing the bile duct and pancreas to remove gallstones or overcome obstructions that might otherwise require surgical exploration. For patients with Barrett’s esophagus with dysplasia—early changes in cells that can signal cancer—the first-line therapy now involves use of endoscopic techniques to burn away the affected cells and prevent the development of cancer and the need for surgery.

Endoscopy is also being used to treat other gastrointestinal disorders. With endoscopic ultrasound—a procedure that combines endoscopy with ultrasound imaging to create more detailed pictures—a patient suspected of having a pancreatic tumor, for example, can be diagnosed and biopsied, the tumor can be staged, and the nerves can be injected through the endoscope to relieve pain.

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