by Brendon Nafziger
, DOTmed News Associate Editor | May 10, 2011
Boston Scientific Corporation said Monday it launched a biopsy needle for endoscopic ultrasound.
The aspiration needle, dubbed Expect, features an "echogenic" pattern, meaning it bounces off sound waves so it's highly visible on ultrasound. This lets doctors better guide the needle to collect tissue samples from targeted organs, for later cancer diagnosis.
The needle's cobalt chromium design also means it might be sharper and resist deformations better than traditional, stainless steel needles, Boston said.
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The Expect Needle received both Food and Drug Administration clearance and CE Mark approval earlier this year, the Natick, Mass.-based company said. It's now available in both markets.
Endoscopic ultrasound is a technique where an endoscope is threaded through the gastrointestinal tract, and the device transmits high-frequency sound waves to create images of the GI and nearby organs, such as the pancreas and liver.
"Combining EUS with [fine needle aspiration] offers powerful diagnostic capabilities that can help optimize malignancy management in the GI tract and inform appropriate treatment paths for the patient, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or palliation," said Dr. Robert H. Hawes, a professor of medicine with the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, in a statement.
In a July 2010 study in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy cited by Boston Scientific, endoscopic ultrasound was independently linked with improved survival rates among pancreatic cancer patients.
The study's authors, led by Dr. Saowanee Ngamruengphong, with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., speculated the technique could let doctors find cancers earlier and better manage treatment.
However, pancreatic cancer is an extremely deadly disease, and survival rates, though better, were modest all around: patients with localized pancreatic cancer who underwent an endoscopic ultrasound had median survival of 10 months, compared with a control group whose median survival was six months.