the torch Winter 2016, Issue 4 - Page 16

Small intestines rock! And finally get some well-deserved respect To get a good look at our digestive system, gastroenterologists can go in from the top with an endoscopy, or from the bot tom with a hiatal hernia, and they don’t have colon polyps causing it. Quite often, This method takes about eight undiagnosed for months and months or take biopsies. these patients have been and keep on requiring transfusions, and ultimately, they’re sent here.” Scoping Out Scopes The current methods for viewing colonoscopy. the small intestine aren’t perfect. several feet located in our small requires patients to swallow a But what about the middle — intestine? This area is a little trickier to access, and the current methods for examining it have room for improvement. That’s where the research of Daniel DeMarco, M.D., medical director for digestive disease technology at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, comes into play. Though many digestive problems can be found in the “top” or “bottom” of the digestive system, some are found in the small intestine. These can include bleeding, infections, intestinal obstructions, intestinal cancer and more. “The type of patients we see most often are those with unexplained anemia,” Dr. DeMarco said. “They keep on losing blood from their gastrointestinal system, but they don’t have ulcers, they don’t have a 16 And sometimes you miss things.” Capsule endoscopy, for example, vitamin-sized capsule containing a tiny camera. It takes pictures all the way down the digestive tract, “but, it’s not a direct look,” Dr. DeMarco said. “Sometimes you’re looking for ward. Sometime s you’re looking backward. hours, and it cannot remove polyps More recently, engineers have developed advanced scopes that allow gastroenterologists to access the entire small intestine. The new technology works by pulling the small intestine up around the scope, as opposed to pushing the instrument through the intestine. A 30-Minute View of the Small Intestine Dr. DeMarco has worked closely with one of the companies that developed these scopes. About five years ago, an engineer from the company told him about some improvements he was considering for the scopes. Engineers took apar t an older scope and placed a motor about the size of an index finger into