Endoscopic Ultrasound Helps Hospital in Treating Cancer
Endoscopic ultrasound, a valuable diagnostic tool for staging gastrointestinal cancers, is now available at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital.
During an endoscopic ultrasound, a small flexible tube with an ultrasound device on the tip is used to examine growths or tumors in the wall of the esophagus or surrounding organs (including the stomach, duodenum, pancreas and gall bladder). If an abnormality is found, the ultrasound is then used to guide the placement of a small needle to obtain a biopsy.
Dr. Eric R. Frizzell, an active duty U.S. Army gastroenterologist at Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center, comes to Moore Regional one day each week to perform endoscopic ultrasounds. Previously, patients were sent to hospitals out of the region for the procedures or underwent traditional open surgery.
Because the results are immediate, Frizzell says, "Endoscopic ultrasound can save people from having major surgery."
Information obtained during an endoscopic ultrasound is helpful in planning cancer treatment. Knowing the extent of the tumor or abnormality can help determine whether surgery is necessary and, if it is, whether chemotherapy or radiation should be part of the treatment plan.
"It can also help avoid futile surgery," Frizzell says.
Situations in which an endoscopic ultrasound might be used include esophageal tumors, abnormal lymph nodes in the chest, chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic masses or cysts, stomach masses, bile duct abnormalities and some forms of lung cancer.
In addition to the gastrointestinal procedures done by Frizzell, endoscopic ultrasound is used by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Andy C. Kiser in patients seeking treatment at FirstHealth's Chest Center of the Carolinas.
The Chest Center provides a wide range of diagnostic and treatment services to patients with esophageal and lung cancer as well as other lung diseases including sarcoidosis.
"I can use endoscopic ultrasound to avoid putting a patient through surgery -- for example, for lymph node biopsy," Kiser says. "It's been a very important diagnostic tool for the Chest Center. It has also been important to have Dr. Frizzell here to lend his expertise to Chest Center patients with esophageal conditions."
According to Janet Pickard, a registered nurse and supervisor of GI Endoscopy at Moore Regional, a minimally invasive endoscopic ultrasound generally takes between 30 minutes to an hour and is performed in an outpatient setting. The patient is sedated, but breathing on his own so there is no need for intubation.
In addition to the physician performing the procedure, the endoscopic ultrasound team includes the nurse in charge of sedation, a technician assisting the physician and, if necessary, a pathologist. The patient is usually observed for one to two hours after the procedure and then sent home.
"It's a great benefit," Pickard says of the program's availability at Moore Regional.
Frizzell is a U.S. Army major who has served a tour of duty in Iraq since first coming to Moore Regional three years ago. He received his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Maryland and completed his internship and residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
He was trained in endoscopic ultrasound during a nine-month fellowship at the University of Maryland.
Dr. Thomas Swantkowski, a gastroenterologist with Pinehurst Medical Clinic, was instrumental in bringing Frizzell to Moore Regional Hospital and is enthusiastic about the opportunity for increased endoscopic ultrasound access.
"Until Dr. Frizzell arrived, most of these procedures were performed at Duke Medical Center or UNC Hospitals," Swantkowski says. "Having Dr. Frizzell here makes it much more convenient for patients of FirstHealth to receive this valuable service. He will be joining us at Pinehurst Medical Clinic in about a year and will be able to provide this service full time, which should expand its usefulness and availability."
Anyone needing more information on the availability of endoscopic ultrasound at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital can call (800) 213-3284 toll-free.
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