A spy camera as small as a sugar crystal, a forceps and a torchlight as tiny as a hair strand and two small irrigation pipes as minuscule as a normal needle – all stuffed in a 3.3-millimetre pipe, opening up a new line of diagnostic-cum-therapeutic devices.

Like armies hit enemy targets with clinical precision using guided missiles, gastroenterologists can guide the pipe to blast stones and cancerous tumours in the bile and pancreatic duct areas of the body.

Does it read like science fiction? Its not. The US-based Boston Scientific has developed SpyGlass technology which is being introduced in top medical institutes in India and in Asia.

All these miniature equipment, difficult to see with normal eye, are inserted into the body through the normal endoscopy pipe. After a point, the bigger pipe stops travelling, allowing the doctor to open up and then guide the miniature pipe into the maze of internal parts to reach out to the problem areas.

Forceps quickly bites into the tumour and sends the biopsy back to the doctor. “Within 5-10 minutes, we will analyse it and act according to the results. The laser equipment laced inside one of the wires pulverises the tumours and stones, while the irrigation pipes take care of the cleaning and sucking the waste,” D Nageshwar Reddy, Chairman of Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, and chief of Gastroenterology and Therapeutic Endoscopy at the institute said.

“The detection rates would be up to 90 per cent using this device as against a maximum of 34 per cent in other methods,” he said.

The entire procedure would be completed in 30 minutes. This not only betters the diagnosis of the problem significantly, it would be reduced the costs for the patients as it avoids traditional surgery. “It costs about Rs 15,000 using this new procedure, as against Rs 1-1.5 lakh in the methods that are in vogue now,” he added.


Addressing a press conference here on Friday on the sidelines of an International SpyGlass Symposium, Dr Reddy said gastroenterologists from 20 countries attended the meet. The institute would begin a Registry of the cases handled across the world.


(This article was published on January 4, 2013)
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