Dr. Jeff Milsom compares performing procedures in the intestinal tract with an endoscope to rowing a boat in moving waters: The intestine, like the water, is not stagnant. While it’s possible to do simple things while the water or the intestine is bobbing up and down, more complex movements are impossible.
To alleviate that, Dr. Milsom, chief of colon and rectal surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, created an “anchor” called the DiLumen, a sleeve that slides onto a traditional endoscope. The innovative instrument has a balloon on each end of the scope that inflates, creating a closed zone that straightens out and steadies the intestine, giving doctors a clear and steady picture of the diseased area.
“The effect of creating that zone allows a doctor to see and treat a given lesion more confidently,” Dr. Milsom says.
The tool was born out of a collaboration among surgeons, imaging specialists, engineers, and clinicians in the Minimally Invasive New Technologies (MINT) program at NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine. In 2014, industry partner Lumendi licensed the technology.
As clinical trials get underway – they begin at NewYork-Presbyterian in April — the DiLumen will, Dr. Milsom believes, change how digestive diseases are treated. Lesions are often situated around a bend in the intestine or hidden behind a fold, making it difficult for doctors using traditional endoscopes to see well enough to address the problem. The DiLumen straightens the area of the intestine between the two balloons, improving visualization and increasing the odds problems like benign polyps, strictures, diverticulitis, and inflammatory bowel diseases can be treated with a scope, not surgeries.
“There are tens of thousands of patients per year who, in the United States, undergo major colon surgeries simply because the doctor with a colonoscope can’t really see the lesion well enough, or long enough, to adequately treat it that way,” Dr. Milsom says.
Unlike conventional intestinal surgeries that usually require cutting out a piece of the intestine, this minimally invasive approach eliminates the need for incisions or general anesthetic, increasing patient safety and decreasing hospital stays.