Special report: The start of endoscopy's reign

by Diana Bradley, Staff Writer | March 16, 2012
From the March 2012 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

“Two specific areas that come to mind are ablative therapies for Barrett’s esophagus, and device-assisted deep small bowel enteroscopy such as double balloon enteroscopy,” adds Dr. Stephen Heller, associate professor of medicine at Temple University’s Division of Gastroenterology at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pa. “Double balloon enteroscopy has opened a new frontier of minimally invasive access to the small intestine, with the ability to diagnose and treat diseases of the small bowel which were previously directly accessible only via surgery.”

Another major development in endoscope technology has been the emergence of 3D high definition imaging. HD – previously only really known as a consumer term for TVs – has now crossed over into the medical technology industry. LED sources or bulbs are also more commonplace in the market today. But these advancements come with higher price tags.

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“In the case of a light source that is now using an LED source or bulb, the cost is justified because an LED source is going to last much longer, will stay brighter for longer and consumes a lot less power,” says Waite. “If you are able to pay slightly more at the purchase point and your savings are realized on an ongoing basis, that’s good business.”

The growing preference for disposable instruments over conventional re-usable instruments will also be a great aid to the endoscopy systems market. “Disposables are in many ways easier to manage, as they cut down on disinfection costs and the specter of transmitting infection in the endoscopy unit,” says Heller.

As for the future of flexible endoscopic procedures, natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery – a minimally invasive surgical procedure allowing access to internal organs using a flexible endoscope – is expected to extend flexible endoscopes’ capabilities for use in more advanced interventions and surgical procedures, enabling more sophisticated diagnosis and therapy options.

Safety and quality concerns
A red flag has recently been raised regarding quality assurance in endoscopy – and not just in the U.S. In October, it was discovered that a non-hospital clinic in Ottawa was not following proper cleaning and infection prevention procedures with its endoscopic equipment. Public health officials sent out more than 6,800 letters to residents indicating that patients might have been exposed to hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV due to the clinic’s carelessness. As of January, the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology has new Consensus Guidelines on Safety and Quality Indicators in Endoscopy, developed by a group of 35 Canadian, European and U.S.-based participants.

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