New alternative to surgery lets doctors remove suspicious polyps, keep colon intact

June 17, 2013, University of California, Los Angeles

Millions of people each year have polyps successfully removed during colonoscopies. But when a suspicious polyp is bigger than a marble or in a hard-to-reach location, patients are referred for surgery to remove a portion of their colon—even if doctors aren't sure whether the polyp is cancerous or not.

Since only 15 percent of all turn out to be malignant, many are unnecessarily subjected to the risks of this . Now there is an alternative.

A UCLA team of surgeons and gastroenterologists has been performing a new, minimally to remove large and hard-to-reach polyps while keeping the colon intact. The procedure, which combines two minimally invasive techniques, has currently been performed at only a handful of medical centers in the United States.

In the June issue of the journal Surgical Endoscopy, the UCLA researchers present their experiences using the new technique—known as CELS, for combination endoscopy and laparoscopy surgery—and offer the first comparison of the new technique and standard surgery.

"The CELS approach combines the best of minimally and may prove to be a viable option for select patients," said senior author Dr. James Yoo, an assistant professor of surgery and chief of the colon and rectal surgery program for the UCLA Health System and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

For the study, the team compared outcomes for five patients who underwent the new procedure with outcomes for nine patients who received standard surgery to remove suspicious polyps between August 2008 and October 2012.

The new technique starts out like a colonoscopy, with a advancing an endoscope inside the colon. The endoscope, a device with a small video camera and a light attached, lets doctors look inside the . Once a polyp is in sight and the gastroenterologist is ready to remove it, the surgeon uses minimally invasive , inserted through two to four tiny incisions in the abdomen, to carefully maneuver and manipulate the colon, allowing the gastroenterologist better access to the polyp.

If the polyp is in a tricky location, such as a fold of the colon, the surgeon can gently undo the fold temporarily. If the polyp is large and deeply embedded, the surgeon can monitor the outside of the colon with a tiny camera and, if needed, perform minor wall repair to the colon after the polyp is removed.

Once the polyp is removed, it is immediately taken to the lab for analysis to determine if it's benign or cancerous, while the team and patient wait in the operating room. The analysis takes about 30 minutes. If the polyp turns out to be cancerous, the team proceeds with the standard surgery to remove the affected portion of the colon.

According to the UCLA report, all polyps were successfully removed with the new CELS procedure, and the complication rate was lower than with standard surgery. Four out of the five patients who had the CELS procedure, and six out of nine patients who received standard surgery, were found to have benign polyps.

The procedure time and hospital stay were shorter with the new procedure, the researchers found. Operating time averaged 159 minutes, compared with 205 minutes for standard surgery, and the median hospital stay was one night with the new procedure and five nights with standard surgery.

"The majority of patients in the study had a benign polyp," Yoo said. "We found that the new procedure can be performed safely with outcomes that compare favorably with standard surgery for these select patients."

In the majority of the CELS cases, findings from the quick lab analysis were accurate. However, one patient's final pathology report, which came back a week later, showed that the polyp was cancerous, so that patient was scheduled for standard surgery.

Yoo noted that in the future, newer imaging methods and lab analysis may make it easier to differentiate between a benign and malignant polyp.

"Although this is a small study with one institution's experience, newer technology is helping doctors raise the bar and offer more minimally invasive procedures with less down-time and trauma for the patient," said Dr. Eric Esrailian, co-chief of the division of digestive diseases for the UCLA Health System and the Geffen School of Medicine, who was part of the UCLA team.

Physicians note that patients who successfully undergo the CELS still require follow-up endoscopic evaluation and that surgery is still the standard treatment for cancer or cancerous polyps—or if the polyp cannot be removed endoscopically even with the CELS technique.

The next step in research, according to the UCLA team, is a multi-institutional study to further examine use of the CELS approach to better characterize its impact on surgery.

Explore further: Johns Hopkins surgeons among the first in the country to perform a robotic single-site hysterectomy

Related Stories

Johns Hopkins surgeons among the first in the country to perform a robotic single-site hysterectomy

May 30, 2013
Two Johns Hopkins gynecologic surgeons are among the first in the nation to perform a robotic hysterectomy using a single, small incision.

New colonoscope provides ground-breaking view of colon

May 18, 2013
A ground-breaking advance in colonoscopy technology signals the future of colorectal care, according to research presented today at Digestive Disease Week(DDW). Additional research focuses on optimizing the minimal withdrawal ...

More than one-third of Texas women still receive unnecessary breast biopsy surgery

May 17, 2013
Many women in Texas who are found to have an abnormality on routine mammogram or discover a lump in one of their breasts end up having an old-fashioned surgical biopsy to find out whether the breast abnormality is malignant. ...

New prep for colon screen uses four pills, not liquid laxative

August 31, 2012
(HealthDay)—Prepping for a "virtual colonoscopy" at the Mayo Clinic now only involves swallowing four cleansing tablets, rather than the large amounts of liquid laxative typically required, researchers report.

Study shows promise, offers hope for brain hemorrhage patients

February 12, 2013
A new endoscopic surgical procedure has been shown to be safer and to result in better outcomes than the current standard medical treatment for patients who suffer strokes as a result of brain hemorrhages, UCLA neurosurgeons ...

Safe for stroke patients to continue blood thinners before minor surgical procedures

May 29, 2013
Many patients who have experienced strokes or mini strokes take blood thinners such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin) to reduce the risk of blood clots that can cause strokes.

Recommended for you

Drug may help surgical patients stop opioids sooner

December 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—Opioid painkillers after surgery can be the first step toward addiction for some patients. But a common drug might cut the amount of narcotics that patients need, a new study finds.

Children best placed to explain facts of surgery to patients, say experts

December 13, 2017
Getting children to design patient information leaflets may improve patient understanding before they have surgery, finds an article in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Burn victim saved by skin grafts from identical twin (Update)

November 23, 2017
A man doomed to die after suffering burns across 95 percent of his body was saved by skin transplants from his identical twin in a world-first operation, French doctors said Thursday.

Is a common shoulder surgery useless?

November 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—New research casts doubt on the true effectiveness of a common type of surgery used to ease shoulder pain.

Study shows electric bandages can fight biofilm infection, antimicrobial resistance

November 6, 2017
Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have shown - for the first time - that special bandages using weak electric fields to disrupt bacterial biofilm infection can prevent infections, combat antibiotic ...

Obesity increases incidence, severity, costs of knee dislocations

November 3, 2017
A new study of more than 19,000 knee dislocation cases in the U.S. between 2000 and 2012 provides a painful indication of how the nation's obesity epidemic is changing the risk, severity and cost of a traumatic injury.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.