(02/19/14) - A tiny ray of light is making a big difference against two deadly autoimmune diseases, like Chron's and Ulcerative Colitis.
Laser micro-endoscopy uses a small but powerful microscope to navigate the intestines. With just a touch of the probe anywhere on the intestine wall, tissue is magnified a thousand times, revealing even the earliest abnormal cells.
Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center is one of the first hospitals in the country to use it. Before the laser, doctors had to depend on taking random tissue samples.
Dr. Razvan Arsenescu says it was like stumbling around a huge dark room trying to find a needle, "whereas now, if I find something, I can act on the spot."
It is good news for Ben Buss, whose Crohn's disease has meant a new diet, medication, six colonoscopies in two years, and a surgery to remove part of his small intestine. Ben had a recent probe that showed some suspicious cells, which would have been missed without the laser.
"Anytime you're able to diagnose earlier things that might be particularly life-threatening like cancer, that's a great thing," Ben says.
Doctors hope that eventually the laser micro-endoscopy will also be used to guide treatment for patients with lung, bladder and gynecologic diseases.
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