Now, you have two new reasons to choose Greenwood Leflore Hospital for your gastrointestinal (GI) care.
The first new reason is huge in importance but tiny in size. It’s a miniature wireless video camera that captures vivid images inside the small bowel, an area of the GI tract that standard methods can't fully examine. Swallowed by the patient, the vitamin-size camera snaps high-definition pictures at a rate of two per second for up to eight hours. The images are collected by a compact hard drive the patient wears on a belt. Once the capsule’s journey is complete, the physician downloads and reads the images, checking for blood, polyps, tumors and other lesions.
“This is the procedure of choice for examining the previously unseen small bowel,” notes Thomas Barry Calvit, M.D., gastroenterologist at Greenwood Leflore Hospital. “It is especially valuable in pinpointing the source of bleeding in an anemic patient whose upper and lower exams have been unrevealing. We now have the ability to see inside the 12 to 20 feet of small intestine that was inaccessible.”
The second exciting new technology is the ERBE Argon Plasma Coagulator (APC), giving gastroenterologists greater control in cauterizing the delicate inside surface of the GI tract. The APC uses a controlled jet of argon gas to generate an electrical arc to the skin of the intestine. It is like precise lighting in a catheter and is gentler than other methods used to stop blood loss and vaporize cancer, according to Calvit.
“Control,” he explains, “equals safety” in correcting problems and avoiding complications that would require surgery. The APC is valuable in removing vessels that bleed easily upon contact, reducing tumors in the esophagus and stomach, and cleaning up small fragments of polyps, he adds.
Is it time for a colonoscopy?
Colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of death among cancers that affect both men and women, is one of the most treatable and preventable forms of cancer when detected early through screening.
Yet, Mississippians are much less likely than residents of other states to have colon screenings. As a result, Mississippi is the only state in the nation that has not seen a decline in deaths from colorectal cancer in recent years.
“We are trying to get the word out in as many ways as possible that colonoscopy is a test that can save your life,” Calvit emphasizes. “Almost all insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, pay for the test.”
It’s important to follow guidelines on when to have a first colonoscopy because colon cancer produces very few symptoms early on—when it is most treatable.
“The vast majority of people with this cancer have no symptoms until the later stages,” Calvit says. “Rectal bleeding, a painful mass in the belly, decreased stool or diarrhea can be warnings an exam is urgently needed.”
Follow these guidelines on when to be screened:
- If you are African American or have a history of colorectal cancer in your family, ask your doctor about having your first colonoscopy at age 45.
- Otherwise, ask your doctor to refer you to a gastroenterologist for screening as you turn 50.
Your physician will advise you on when to have a follow-up to your first screening. If no lesions are found and you do not have a family history of colon cancer, you likely will not need to repeat the test for 10 years.