Advanced spyglass speeds up diagnosis for hospital patients


A new hi-tech endoscope being used by doctors at Southampton General Hospital is revolutionising diagnosis  for patients with liver and gallbladder conditions.

The SpyGlass system, which  consists of a fibre optic probe attached to a camera head, allows gastroenterologists to explore the tubes inside the liver (bileducts) and visualise in detail what they previously would only have been able to look at on x-rays.

The advanced tool enables biopsies to be taken from inside the bileducts during the examination, improving the doctor’s ability to make an accurate diagnosis of – or exclude – cancer without the need for repeat scans and testing or invasive surgery.

Before the SpyGlass endoscope, doctors had to rely on basic scans that did not always provide enough information, sometimes leaving major surgery as the only option for a conclusive diagnosis.

Dr Mark Wright, consultant in liver medicine, said: “Until the introduction of this technology, if patients’ scans showed any abnormalities, surgery would often be the only option as there was not enough detail available to rule out cancer.

“With SpyGlass, we are able to visualise what we see on the scans and take tissue biopsies while examing if necessary, so patients can be confident they are having surgery that is completely necessary as opposed to just a precautionary measure.”

He added: “The introduction of SpyGlass means we can offer our patients a fast and accurate diagnosis.”

The SpyGlass equipment has been funded by Southampton General Hospital's League of Friends.

Posted on Tuesday 8 December 2009