HealthWACH: Lasers lighting up Chron's disease

HealthWACH: Stopping Chron's disease

COLUMBIA (WACH) - Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic intemperate of all of the organs in your digestive tract. It currently affects close to 1.5 million Americans. IBD usually includes Crohnâ??s disease and ulcerative colitis, and can be very painful and uncomfortable. Crohnâ??s disease causes inflammation in the digestive tract and spreads along the tissue. The effects are severe diarrhea, malnutrition, and abdominal pain. Ulcerative colitis is another inflammatory bowel disease that is long-lasting. The symptoms of this disease develop over time, but it only affects the lining of the large intestine.

Symptoms of IBD may vary between each patient, but they typically include:

  • Fever

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Diarrhea

  • Blood in stool

  • Urgency to have a bowel movement

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Iron deficiency

A new laser micro endoscopy is helping doctors treat patients with IBD more effectively. Whereas before, patients would undergo numerous colonoscopies and biopsies, the laser micro endoscopy can determine which areas need to be biopsied. It allows doctors to simply touch the endoscopy to a part of the intestine, and examine tissue with 1,000 times magnification. In real-time doctors can then determine if the tissue needs to be biopsied. Over 100 patients have already received the treatment, and the hope is the endoscopy could be used to treat lung, bladder, or gynecologic diseases in the future.