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Only on ABC-7: new medical equipment in El Paso eliminates need for surgery

Destroying gallstones and removing tumors without surgery is now possible, thanks to a new piece of medical equipment available in El Paso.

University Medical Center is the only hospital in the city with the SpyGlass DS, a direct visualization system that enables surgeons to perform endoscopies for procedures such as a bile duct biopsy or a gallstone removal.

“It’s a vehicle that we can use to access parts of the body that we could never get to before,” Dr. Sandeep Patel told ABC-7.

Patel is an associate professor of medicine at Texas Tech University and the director of the Pancreas Center at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He flies to El Paso twice a month to perform the endoscopic procedures at UMC as part of a partnership between UTSA, TTUHSC and UMC.

“This is new frontier for us to see with our own eyes, with video, what the inner lining of these ducts look like,” Patel said.

The SpyGlass, with a camera and powerful light, is thin enough to fit into the endoscope. What makes it unique is its laser feature.

“With this camera, we can visualize these (gall) stones, apply a laser and break up these stones into smaller pieces so we can extract them and save these patients major, big operations,” said Patel.

“We can (also) pick up early cancers of the bile duct or pancreas, which are almost uniformly fatal diseases.”

Patel said one of the more common health problems in the southwestern part of the country is stones in the bile duct and pancreas. Patients would often be required to seek treatment outside of El Paso and go to Scottsdale, Arizona, Dallas, Houston or San Antonio.

“We’ve now brought (our services) to El Paso with collaboration with UMC and Texas Tech,” Patel told ABC-7. “To feel that we’re making an impact to the people of this community it’s really gratifying process for us.”

Because the procedures performed with the SpyGlass do not require invasive surgery, UMC officials told ABC-7 that patients are able to go home the same day.

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