Colonoscopies go high-def.

July 17, 2008 5:52:30 PM PDT
Jim Hayes, 57, of Berlin, N.J. went in for a colonoscopy at Virtua Berlin. He and his wife know it's important to be screened, especially since he has a family history of colon cancer. "I just like to increase my odds," he said.

And now new technology is helping to increase doctors' odds of finding problems. Knobby lesions called polyps are found and removed during a colonoscopy, creasing the chance they'll turn into cancer. But there's also flat lesions. Some say these are five-times more likely to be cancerous but they're more difficult to for doctors to see. "If you don't see it and you don't take it out, it could be a potential problem," said gastroenterologist Dr. Dan D'Auria.

But he said new imaging is helping. Many centers including Virtua Health are now using a scope that broadcasts in HD, or high definition. They also use narrow band imaging which helps highlight flat lesions better and the scope can magnify closer than traditional scopes.

"It makes a lot of things we're looking for much easier to see than they were in the past," Dr. D'Auria said.

The new imaging is expected to become the standard. The hope is it'll help detect more problems early and save more lives. But still that all depends on people going to their doctor. "Bottom line is if you don't get screened, you're at risk- we're all at risk," Dr. D'Auria said.

Men and women should be screened starting at age fifty and younger if there's a family history.

The new imaging is made by Olympus. Nearly half of the medical centers in the tri-state area have purchased the new equipment.