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New procedure at EGRMC helps detect cancer
Dr. Eli Penn completes first EUS esophageal placement in Statesboro area
Eli Penn
Eli Penn

Dr. Eli Penn, a gastroenterologist with the Gastroenterology Institute, recently completed the first EUS guided esophageal marker placement in the Statesboro area at East Georgia Regional Medical Center. The significant accomplishment will help certain esophageal cancer patients receive radiation therapy.

Dr. Penn, a board-certified gastroenterologist, said: "EUS is a safe, non-invasive, diagnostic procedure that can accurately diagnose tumors through biopsy at an earlier stage. This early detection can give patients with cancerous tumors a better prognosis than if the tumor went longer undetected."

Dr. Penn is one of two gastroenterologists in the area that perform EUS procedures. Prior to the introduction of EUS at East Georgia Regional Medical Center patients had to travel to Savannah or further.

The ultrasonic endoscope transmits images of the inside of the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, as well as ultrasound images of adjacent organs such as the pancreas, gallbladder and liver. Tissue samples can be collected by the physician using a fine needle that passes through the EUS scope. Prior to the EUS procedure, the only way to collect tissue samples was to have invasive surgery. The new procedure provides the most advanced treatment by allowing for a much earlier detection for cancer.

Before, patients who were treated for an aortic aneurysm and received an aortic stent may have found it impossible to receive localized and focused radiation treatment for esophageal cancer. Through the use of EUS, endoscopic ultrasound, a camera is guided through the digestive track that visualizes images through ultrasound imaging. Dr. Penn then is able to place a tiny gold marker within the esophagus and allow the patient to receive highly focused radiation therapy. The treatment is considered cutting edge not only locally, but nationwide as well.
Other benefits of the endoscopic ultrasound procedure include the ability to have a comprehensive look inside patients with abnormal imaging results from CT scans or x-rays and diagnose and treat patients with severe abdominal pain.

Previously, doctors relied on endoscopes equipped solely with video cameras to diagnose and assess medical conditions in the gastrointestinal tract. Endoscopes are long, thin, bendable tubes that can be passed down the throat of a patient who has been sedated to capture video and still-images inside the body. The tips of the scopes have a very small video camera and light source. Endoscopes have been used successfully for many years despite one major limitation: they only see what the human eye can see.

EUS enables doctors to see underneath tissue and beyond the walls of the digestive tract, capturing detailed images of internal organs in the abdomen.
For information on endoscopic ultrasound and other gastrointestinal procedures at East Georgia Regional Medical Center, call (912) 486-1000 or visit


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