Endoscopic ultrasound system will cut biopsy risks

10 May 2010

Good cause: (From left) Prof Marian Jacobs (dean of health sciences), Dr Reno Morar (deputy dean, health sciences), Prof Jake Krige (Department of Surgery), and Prof Bongani Mayosi (head of the Department of Medicine), with Prof Adrian Hatfield.

An Olympus endoscopic ultrasound system, which helps to diagnose complex gastrointestinal diseases, has been donated to the Gastrointestinal Clinic at UCT/Groote Schuur Hospital.

The R3-million funding for the equipment was spearheaded by Adrian Hatfield, visiting professor of gastroenterology from University College Hospital in London, who persuaded winemaking entrepreneurs Rhona and Graham Beck to assist.

Hatfield, at Groote Schuur on a three-month sabbatical, had noticed with concern the absence of any endoscopic ultrasound equipment at the hospital.

An ultrasound scanner has been built into the end of an endoscope to give not just an endoscopic view inside the gastrointestinal tract, but also an image of the wall of the gut and the structures immediately below.

Hatfield explains that the definition obtained in this way is vastly superior to that of even the most modern computerised tomography or magnetic resonance imaging scanners.

"The technique allows for the accurate and direct needle-biopsying of a suspicious area to detect cancer without having to put the patient at risk of any external biopsy technique," he says.

Hatfield has been coming to UCT (first as a consultant and later as a visiting professor) since 1979, assisting in the upgrading of treatment techniques.

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