Endoscopic Ultrasound Now Offered at UMCP

Feb 10, 2009

Technology Helps Detect, Stage, Treat Certain Cancers

PRINCETON, NJ, FEB. 9, 2009 - Endoscopic ultrasound is used by physicians to get a better look at the gastrointestinal tract and nearby organs, enabling them to better diagnose and treat certain GI and lung diseases, including cancer.  University Medical Center at Princeton recently acquired an endoscopic ultrasound machine, meaning patients from Princeton and the surrounding region can now have the highly specialized procedure close to home.

Through the use of endoscopic ultrasound, doctors are able to get a close look at and evaluate abnormalities outside and within the lining and walls of the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract along with nearby organs, such as the pancreas, liver and gallbladder.

The technique helps doctors accurately determine the location and severity of a tumor and enables them to plot the appropriate course of treatment.  Physicians are also able to examine the size, shape and appearance of adjacent lymph nodes, helping determine whether cancer has spread.  Sampling of tumors and lymph nodes is also easier. This is especially useful in patients with pancreas and lung cancer.

"Endoscopic ultrasound is enabling physicians to see a clearer picture of tumors or masses in the GI tract and around the lungs, resulting in improved diagnosis and treatment for patients," said Eric H. Shen, M.D., a board certified gastroenterologist and member of the Medical Staff at Princeton HealthCare System.  "And now patients can undergo the procedure right here at University Medical Center at Princeton."

Endoscopic ultrasound also enables physicians to perform fine-needle aspiration (biopsy) of lymph nodes and tumors and inject medicines in affected areas. For instance, patients with pancreatic cancer often experience pain associated with the celiac plexus - a bundle of nerves in the abdomen. With endoscopic ultrasound, physicians can inject a pain medication into the nerve, providing relief for patients with pancreatic cancer.

In addition, physicians are beginning to use endoscopic ultrasound to inject chemotherapy directly into a tumor, reducing a patient's overall exposure to the treatment and helping them avoid the side effects commonly associated with chemotherapy.

"The uses and benefits of endoscopic ultrasound to stage cancers accurately and sample them easily will benefit our patients immensely," said Vasudha Dhar, M.D., a board certified gastroenterologist and member of the Medical Staff at Princeton HealthCare System. "This state-of-the-art technology is helping us tailor appropriate treatments for patients and helping to improve the quality of life for them and their families."

The procedure involves passing a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) through a patient's mouth or rectum and into the upper or lower gastrointestinal tract.  The tube is equipped with an ultrasound transducer that produces sound waves to create a viewable image of surrounding tissue.  It also offers the ability to sample tumors and lymph nodes at the same time.

Because of the technical nature of endoscopic ultrasound, the procedure should only be performed by a specially trained endoscopist.

The new endoscopic ultrasound machine is located in the endoscopy suite at University Medical Center at Princeton at 253 Witherspoon Street in Princeton.  Patients who are candidates for endoscopic ultrasound are generally referred to a specialist by their physician or another endoscopist.

For more information about endoscopic ultrasound services at UMCP or for referral to a physician who performs endoscopic ultrasound, please call 1.888.PHCS4YOU