Bladder cancer is the fourth-most-common cancer in men and one of the most expensive cancers to treat from diagnosis to death. After initial diagnosis and surgery, patients must return to the urologist at least yearly for a costly, time-consuming and uncomfortable bladder scan. Tumors recur in more than half of patients.
Researchers at the University of Washington are proposing a more automated approach that could be cheaper, more comfortable and more convenient for both doctors and patients. Their system would use the UW's ultrathin laser endoscope, which is like a thin piece of cooked spaghetti, in combination with software that stitches together images from the scope's path to create a full, 3-D panorama of the bladder interior.
The semi-automated scan could be done by a nurse or technician. Resulting images could be reviewed by a urologist at a later time, potentially in another city or country.
"This is trying to bring endoscopy to a more digital, modern age," said co-author Eric Seibel, a UW research associate professor of mechanical engineering. "In the current model a very highly trained person has to do all the manual controls. There's no electronic record, no longitudinal studies, no remote diagnosis and you can't send records anywhere."
The research is being presented today in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association.
Currently, urologists conduct bladder exams using an endoscope that's manipulated around the bladder during the roughly 5 minute scan. Because a specialist is required, some patients have to travel long distances for appointments.
Unlike ultrasounds, X-rays and CT scans, endoscopies are only performed by medical doctors. Often no records exist beyond the doctor's notes.
The UW software checks that no part of the organ was missed, so a nurse or technician could administer the procedure especially using a small scope that doesn't require anesthesia.
|Contact: Hannah Hickey|
University of Washington