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Innovation close to homeDoctor catches, treats elusive tumor
On a Friday morning, Baker swallowed a vitamin-sized capsule containing a camera and radio transmitter. A miniature computer strapped to his belt collected the images over an eight-hour time span, long enough for the capsule to travel the length of the small bowel.
The following Monday, he had his answer.
The bleeding was from an ulcer on a small tumor located deep inside the small bowel. Next to it was a Meckel’s diverticulum, a pouch on the wall of the small bowel formed from remnant of stomach lining left behind during fetal development.
Treatment had to be delayed for two months, so Baker could complete a full year of blood thinners required after having a heart stent inserted in 2009. In April 2010, Dr. Renton performed a single balloon enteroscopy to locate the mass, biopsy it and mark it with dye for the surgeon to easily find.
“This type of slow-growing cancerous tumor is very difficult to find,” Dr. Renton said. “When it is located in the small bowel, it is most often found only after it has spread.”
The tumor and the Meckel’s diverticulum were removed through two small incisions. If the area hadn’t been previously marked, Baker would have required a large incision through which the surgeon would have searched the small bowel by hand.
“I was back to my regular routine of walking and exercising within a week of my surgery,” Baker said. “I no longer have bouts of nausea, and my energy level has increased.”
Dr. Renton was the first in North Dakota to perform this innovative procedure.
“This technology allows us to find an explanation to problems that were very difficult to determine in the past,” Dr. Renton said. “Because it is available at Sanford Health, patients can avoid traveling to Rochester or Minneapolis for this type of care.”
Baker underwent a scan two weeks after surgery, and no evidence of cancer was found. He will continue the annual scans for two more years. “I’m so thankful to Dr. Renton,” Baker said. “It was my luck in getting him as my doctor and his persistence that found the tumor.”
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