HKU enteroscope improves intestinal disease diagnosis

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2005, 12:00am

Updated at 7.29pm:
The University of Hong Kong?s Faculty of Medicine on Wednesday said it had adopted a new method to diagnose diseases affecting the small intestine.


Small-intestine disorders are often difficult to detect. Associate professor Benjamin Wong Chun-yu told reporters the method would eliminate several limitations found in conventional methods.


?An accurate diagnosis is now available to the patients without undergoing general anaesthesia and open abdominal incision,? Dr Wong said.


This method was developed in Japan and has now been adopted in China, Japan and various western countries.


A ?double balloon enteroscopy? involves a 200 centimetre long tube, the enteroscope, with a 145-cm-long plastic overtube. Inflatable balloons are fitted to the tips of both tubes.


Assistant professor Lai Kam-chuen said balloons on the tubes could be inflated or deflated inside the small intestine, controlled by doctors through an air pump system.


?By a combination of movement of overtube and enteroscope and inflation of balloons, the enteroscope could advance in the small intestine easily without deforming it,? Dr Lai added.


The double balloon enteroscopy has been applied to 20 patients since November last year. Ten of them were diagnosed as having diseases of the small intestine.


One Hong Kong patient, surnamed Cheng, said she was among the 10 patients helped by the new method.


Ms Cheng has suffered from anaemia for 10 years but doctors could not tell what the exact condition was until she was diagnosed with haemangioma. This was discovered by using the ?double balloon enteroscopy? technique.


Diseases such as benign tumours, cancers, Crohn?s disease and ulcers could be found in the small intestine. Doctors said the symptoms were not obvious, so people needed to be careful.


But experts said the enteroscope method did have limitations. It could not be applied to patients with problems like gastrointestinal obstruction and swallowing disorders.
More research on it would be carried out in future as it had just been introduced, doctors added.