New gallstone-removing endoscope promises fewer gallbladder removals


January 18, 2012

A new type of endoscope is said to be able to remove gallstones (pictured), reducing the need for gallbladder removals

A new type of endoscope is said to be able to remove gallstones (pictured), reducing the need for gallbladder removals

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When someone has gallstones, treatment typically involves the removal of their gallbladder. This is usually done laparoscopically, in a procedure known as a cholecystectomy. A group of scientists from the Second People's Hospital of Panyu District and Central South University in China, however, have created an endoscope that they say is able to locate and remove gallstones while leaving the gallbladder intact.

The device has an ultrasonic probe at its tip, that is used to locate the stones. It can reportedly even find small ones, embedded in the lining of the gallbladder. While it isn't entirely clear how the endoscope deals with larger stones (one would assume it blasts them apart), it is able to suck up fine, "sludge-like" stones using its horn-shaped "absorbing box."

Should laparoscopic surgery be necessary, an integrated fluid channel can also be used to inject water into the gallbladder, to increase the size of its interior cavity. The device has standard interfacing hardware, so it can be connected to typical camera systems worldwide.

In clinical trials conducted at two hospitals, there was found to be little difference in the surgical safety of the new endoscope, and one commonly used for cholecystectomies. Additionally, its flexibility, reliability and image quality were reported to be better.

A paper on the research has been accepted for publication in the American Institute of Physics' journal Review of Scientific Instruments.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Unless you happen to have the lap surgeons say \"Nope, we won\'t touch that patient.\" Happened to me, so I have a two foot long scar and several puncture holes from the bags I had to carry for a year after the idiots decided to go down my throat with a basket and retrieve the stones when they knew my throat was swollen, ripping me up in the process.


Trust me on this. If your surgeon continues to walk into your hospital room everyday only to tell you that the operation is a \"chip shot\" (golf term for easy shot) be assured that they are only trying to build up their own confidence as mine did this when I was not even worried one iota about the outcome of my upcoming gallbladder surgery. It turned out to be a disaster for me. First off once in the surgeon found he was in over his head as far as his competency was concerned and I woke up as he was having a driver strap me into a wheelchair in order to send me to a specialist at another hospital nearby. At this other hospital I was hurriedly wheeled into what looked like a storage room with a bunch of old machinery and asked to get onto a gurney that was next to a large steel door with a big red EXIT sign above it. After the drugs wore off I awoke in that surgeon\'s office alone. I heard my driver outside arguing with the nurse and rolled myself out the office doorway and alerted the driver as to where I was. The nurse tried to keep me in that hospital over night but, never explained why they wanted me to remain there. I had a room at the last hospital and I wanted to go there so I left with my driver. I was never informed of the outcome of the operation. I had to research everything on my own. It seems the anesthesiologist calculated incorrectly and I had an adverse reaction on the table at which point they removed both endoscopes in a manner that caused internal scarring of my intestines and throat. My diet has been severely limited ever since. I could not seek damages from malpractice because it was in the VA system that I had my operation. I will never forget those surgeons names for the rest of my life. They could have at least informed me of what had happened. Sorry for ranting but, if you are about to go through this ask as many questions about every aspect of your operation before it goes down like mine did.


I forgot one real important thing about my gallbladder operation and that is that the surgeons never located the gall stones they went in to remove in the first place. Anytime I ask my VA doctors about the pains where my gall bladder used to be they give me very vague answers and rush me out the door. Next patient. Is this the kind of treatment I\'m to expect from Obama care too? I\'m done with the VA and will pay out of pocket for any and all medical care from now on. Just say \"no\" to \'Obama-care\' and/or \'Romney-care\'.


This is why in any gall bladder problem, 95 percent of the time they simply remove the gallbladder. This simplifies things, this operation is called one of the bread and butters for surgeons. But every one should know and my teachers have told that no operation has to be taken lightly, since one is opening into a body cavity. But this Chinese version is a good and sincere attempt at saving the gallbladder overall, since far too many gallbladders are taken out for trivial reasons. This is the core issue.

Dawar Saify

When will this surgery become available in the US?


Yes, I would like to know when will this surgery become available in the US too.


here is my experience with this tech


Is there any opportunity for this surgery here in North America. The gallstone removal. NOT THE GALLBLADDER REMOVAL?

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