SVMC Introduces HDTV Technology for Tests that Find Cancer, Other Disease

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Kevin Robinson
(802) 447-5413
20 Nov. 2008

A new high-definition endoscope at Southwestern Vermont Medical uses special "Narrow Band Imaging" to give doctors better images and help them find and treat problems spots that can become cancer.

BENNINGTON — If you’ve seen the difference high-definition television makes in your living room, you can imagine what a difference it makes in diagnosis. Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) now has a new state-of-the art tool: high-definition endoscopes that help doctors diagnose disease in the gastrointestinal tract and lungs.

Not only that. Even before they had high-definition equipment, surgeons at SVMC had a better track record at detecting colon problems than their counterparts.

Endoscopy is used to diagnose and treat diseases, including colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death among Vermont men and women. It can be prevented with colonoscopy.

SVMC equipped its three endoscopy suites with the scopes, which give doctors sharper images and better contrast than conventional equipment. This may help doctors better detect a lesion (an area of abnormal tissues) or polyp when they are imaging the digestive tract. As a result, patients may receive more accurate diagnoses.

Dr. Emil P. Miskovsky, a gastroenterologist, is an SVMC doctor who uses the new scopes for colonoscopies and upper endoscopy procedures. A colonoscopy is a visual examination of the inside of the colon and rectum. Upper endoscopies image the esophagus, stomach, and upper part of the small intestine.

“With this new technology, we believe we will detect and eliminate even earlier than in the past the abnormal tissue that can become cancer,” Miskovsky said. “High-definition visuals help us better see early changes that are closely connected with cancers that develop in the colon, stomach, and esophagus.”

SMVC also purchased a bronchoscope that can be used with the high-definition system. SVMC’s pulmonary medicine specialist, Dr. Michael Algus, uses the scope to examine the lungs.

 

Watch a Video Explaing Narrow Band Imaging

The SVMC scopes are from Olympus. The company says the equipment was the world’s first to deliver both high definition and a technology called “narrow band imaging” to gastrointestinal exams. The HD signal from a video processor gives more than twice the number of scan lines than conventional systems. This offers doctors images of the colon with a very high level of detail and color.

“Narrow band imaging” is a new image processing technique. It takes advantage of the scattering and absorption properties of human tissue. This results in remarkably clear views of anatomical structures in the gastrointestinal tract and fine capillaries, which are normally hard to distinguish.

When it comes to screening colonoscopies, SVMC physicians outperform their peers. SVMC compared its doctors’ results with those from a study by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. The national study reported that doctors detected adenomas in at least 25 percent of men and 15 percent of women 50 or older in screening exams. An adenoma is tissue that is precancerous or a cancer.

SVMC physicians found at least one adenoma in 50 percent of the men and 44 percent of the women examined between October 2007 and March 2008. SVMC doctors performed 384 screening colon exams in that period.

Dr. Ronald S. Mensh, an SVMC gastroenterologist, said he was not surprised to learn that SVMC was better than others at detecting adenomas.

“As surgeons, we are fairly compulsive,” Mensh said. “But our patients also benefit from three sets of eyes scouting for abnormalities. The nurses and technicians who are on our procedure teams play a significant role. They deserve their share of credit in this detective work.”

The American Cancer Society (ACS) projects 148,810 Americans will find out in 2008 that they have colorectal cancer. The society estimates that colorectal cancer will kill nearly 50,000 Americans this year. The ACS also points out that the 5-year survival rate for people whose colorectal cancer is treated early — before it has spread — is greater than 90%.

Physicians at SVMC recommend that men and women 50 or older who do not have a risk of colon cancer get a colonoscopy every 10 years. People with risk factors should talk to their doctor about getting the procedure at a younger age or being screened more often. Risk factors include having had colon polyps, blood in the stool, or a relative with colorectal cancer.

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center is a 99-bed community hospital that is recognized by the American Nurses Association as a Magnet Hospital for Nursing Excellence. Fewer than 5 percent of hospitals have earned Magnet recognition.

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