The recent advent of endoscopic ultrasound procedures at Franciscan Alliance Northern Indiana Region hospitals offers another example of why patients need not travel outside of the area to receive the best available treatment.
The outpatient procedure, which provides for more efficient diagnoses and is less invasive and relatively pain-free, recently became available at Franciscan St. Margaret Health – Dyer and Hammond and at Franciscan Point, which is under the auspices of Franciscan St. Anthony Health – Crown Point.
A scope attached to the end of a probe photographs areas using sound waves and “can take pictures in parts of the body that can’t be done with regular ultrasound and get samples of the area being examined through a needle that passes through the scope,” said Julia LeBlanc, MD - gastroenterology, who does the procedure at Franciscan Point.
It provides a real-time view to study the upper and lower digestive and respiratory tracts to stage lung, esophageal, pancreatic, bile duct, rectal and gastric cancer, as well as to check tumors of the upper gastrointestinal tract and to locate gall stone disease. The device also allows physicians to take biopsies (with a needle) without having to perform surgery, as was the case in the past. It also can be used to destroy certain pancreatic cysts and prevent possible cancer growth, through the injection of alcohol and other medicine.
“We are able to see how thick and deep a tumor is and if it has spread, which allows the specialist to know how to best treat it. It is the standard of care for esophageal and rectal cancer and is being used routinely in pancreatic cancer care,” Dr. LeBlanc said.
Praveen Nallapareddy, MD – gastroenterology at Franciscan St. Margaret Health, said the tool adds “more specific imaging to structures being examined than a CAT scan and is done without incisions.”
“The results determine whether a patient needs surgery, or what the next treatment step should be. It is a follow-up procedure to regular endoscopes, colonoscopies and ultrasounds. It allows for faster treatment time and can be managed on an outpatient basis,” he said.
Before endoscopic ultrasound was available locally, patients had to travel to Chicago or Indianapolis, Dr. Nallapareddy pointed out, adding, “We’re able to provide the highest quality of care, right here.” Dr. LeBlanc agreed.
“This tool changes how we practice medicine – it shows how we can use technology to make for a positive impact on patients and improve their overall health.”
She said it also makes physicians’ jobs easier because, “the more information we have going in, the more we can help the patient – and everyone is happier in the end.”