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All eyes on revolutionary imaging treatment at RNSH

A revolutionary treatment which can help identify pancreatic cancer and other potentially life-threatening conditions earlier without needing surgery has been introduced at Royal North Shore Hospital. 

The SpyGlass treatment involves the insertion of a small camera through an incision near the liver into the bile ducts. Using the latest digital technology available, the camera provides even clearer images of areas including the biliary and pancreatic ducts and help detect potentially life-threatening conditions.

RNSH’s medical imaging team is believed to be one of the first interventional radiology departments in Australia to permanently integrate the treatment, which can help doctors precisely locate and examine tissue without performing surgery and prevent multiple hospital visits for patients. 

“It’s a cutting-edge treatment but without us having to cut patients,” said Endovascular and Interventional Radiologist Dr Albert Goh, who oversaw an initial trial of the treatment at RNSH involving about 10 patients earlier this year. 

“It will help patients who are too medically fragile to be treated under anaesthetic. It’s also more minimally invasive, it can help reduce hospitalisations and it just offers patients an alternative treatment.”

It’s a wonderful addition to the treatment we are already offering patients
Endovascular and Interventional Radiologist, Dr Albert Goh

The flexible camera, which Albert described as similar to a noodle, is inserted into the patient’s bile duct and can help physicians receive an enhanced view of the exact spot for biopsy, allowing for significantly improved diagnoses.

Offering an alternative to more traditional 2D x-ray imaging, it can help confirm malignant conditions such as pancreatic cancer, as well as gall and bile stones, cystic lesions and benign conditions which could become more serious without immediate treatment.

Although improving, the five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer in Australia is currently only about 10 per cent, among the lowest of all cancers and making early detection and treatment crucial.

“There’ll always be patients not suitable for surgery for various reasons, so Spyglass can help us treat them,” said Albert.

“By helping us diagnose these conditions earlier, it can also help reduce admissions to intensive care. 

“We had wonderful support from the gastrointestinal surgeons at RNSH which has helped us explore the use of Spyglass here. I’m really excited about its future uses.

“We expect this revolutionary treatment will now be permanently integrated into RNSH’s imaging and interventional service.”

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