COLUMBUS, Ohio – A tiny blue laser beam could mean
big changes in the way patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are
treated in the future.
Nearly 1.5 million Americans have IBD, a group of
inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine, and to help keep
their condition in check, most patients undergo colonoscopies and have biopsies
on a regular basis, which can be expensive. Treating IBD patients costs about
$1.2 billion each year in the United States, according to the Crohn’s &
Colitis Foundation of America.
But the use of a powerful new laser is making that
process much more efficient at The Ohio State
University Wexner Medical Center.
Simply by touching the laser to the wall of the
intestine, doctors can magnify tissue 1,000 times. Then, in real-time,
determine if an area truly needs to be biopsied.
“It’s as if you’re navigating a tiny microscope
throughout the body,” said Dr.
Razvan Arsenescu, medical director of the
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. “We’re still doing biopsies, but now we’re
able to use technology to determine the best place to do the biopsies, which
allows us to have very focused and high-yield biopsies.”
Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center is one of the first hospitals
nationwide using this type of laser micro
endoscopy to treat patients with IBD. Almost 100 patients have received this
treatment since October. Eventually, it may be used to treat patients with
lung, bladder or gynecologic diseases, Arsenescu said.
“If you have this laser probe, you can actually
touch the lining and see whether something looks normal or abnormal and the
number of points you can touch can number in the hundreds,” said Arsenescu, who
is an international expert in the treatment of Crohn’s
disease and ulcerative colitis. “You can actually get a
sense of the area and focus the biopsies where the answer might be, instead of
just relying on a random test.”
Inflammatory bowel diseases are considered
autoimmune diseases, in which the body’s own immune system attacks elements of
the digestive system.
Often patients with IBD require immunosuppressive
drugs that may increase their risk for infectious complications and even some
types of cancer, Arsenescu said.
“Early diagnosis is
important, along with early intervention,” he said. “In some patients, we have
even found and removed precancerous lesions that likely would have developed
into colon cancer.”
The Inflammatory Bowel Disease center, which is staffed by
gastroenterologists, surgeons, pathologists, radiologists and nutritionists at Ohio
State’s Wexner Medical Center, provides a comprehensive approach to IBD
treatment and immediate access to evidence-based medicine.
Eileen Scahill, Wexner Medical Center Public Affairs and Media Relations,
614-293-3737 or Eileen.Scahill@osumc.edu