A surgeon holds an endoscope as he operates on a patient.

Advanced Endoscopic Procedures: More Than Imaging

Endoscopic procedures are a useful way to see inside the body and collect images that help your doctor gain a greater understanding of your health. There are several different types: colonoscopies focus on the colon and rectum, upper endoscopies focus on the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract, and ureteroscopies focus on the urethra, bladder, and ureter. Advanced endoscopies, however, are more than diagnostic. These procedures can do anything from breaking up gallstones to removing cancer, all without making a single external incision. 

Laser Lithotripsy

When someone has stones stuck in their ureter or gallbladder, doctors will prescribe medicine to relax the muscles. If the kidney stones or gallstones are too big to pass even then, doctors may recommend using laser lithotripsy. This procedure involves threading a thin endoscope through the urethra and bladder and into the ureter. The endoscope has a camera that provides surgeons with a visual, and once they locate the stone, they use a laser to break it into smaller pieces they can then remove. Patients usually return home on the same day as the procedure.

Endoscopic Ultrasound 

Surgeons have begun using endoscopes with attached ultrasounds to get clear images of a patient’s pancreas, stomach, small intestine, and liver. A surgeon threads this endoscope down the throat, through the stomach, and into the small intestine. The ultrasound camera sends out sound waves that bounce off the different structures in your body and then return to the device, allowing it to create an image the same way bats use echolocation to see. Endoscopic ultrasounds can provide clearer images than routine ultrasounds, as these get closer to the subject. 

Endoscopic Mucosal Resection 

This procedure removes cancers from the lining of organs, or mucosa, beginning with a surgeon threading an endoscope down the throat and into the GI tract. An attached camera provides surgeons with images of the mucosa. The doctors can then send small tools down the endoscope to remove questionable spots for a biopsy or even remove precancerous changes and early-stage cancers. 

Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center is home to the only team in the area that offers endoscopic resection for Barrett’s esophagus and early-stage esophageal cancer. With one of only a handful of experts in the country who perform this procedure at a high volume, we can use this technique to avoid the total removal of the esophagus.

For access to advanced endoscopic capabilities, start your healthcare journey with a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group or CHI St. Luke’s Health gastroenterologist. Our team of nationally recognized surgeons can review your condition and help you determine your best course of treatment. If your condition stems from gastroesophageal reflux disease, visit us at our Heartburn & Acid Reflux Institute at CHI St. Luke's Health–The Woodlands Hospital for comprehensive diagnostics and therapeutics under one roof.

Sources: 
ASGE | Endoscopic Mucosal Resection (EMR)
TSGE | Advanced endoscopy means skipping surgery
Baylor College of Medicine | Center for Advanced Endoscopy
Medical News Today | Lithotripsy for stones: What to expect
The National Pancreas Foundation | PANCREAS ENDOSCOPIC ULTRASOUND (EUS)
ASGE | Endoscopic Procedures