The Fulton County Hospital has made great advancements not only to keep up with bigger hospitals but also to serve the community better. Now, instead of traveling to a medical center in another town to get a colonoscopy or an endoscopy, patients can have the procedure done closer to home at the Fulton County Hospital. The hospital now has a state-of-the-art Olympus scope with a small camera attached to the end.
Dr. Jeff Summerhill is the doctor who normally works with the scope. He said the camera is in the form of a scope and is flexible enough to be put inside the body.
There are two separate scopes. Each one has a specific purpose, Dr. Summerhill said. One scope has a flexible cord that is about 3- or 4-feet long. The cord is about the diameter of a finger. This scope is used for EGDs, which allows doctors to see the inside of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine to look for disease, Dr. Summerhill said.
The other scope is about 6-feet long and is a bit bigger in diameter than the smaller one. "If a kid ever asks you how big the big intestine is, that's how big it is," Dr. Summerhill said pointing at the scope. "This scope is called the colonoscope because it is used to explore the lower, or big, intestine, which includes the colon. This is the gold standard for evaluating the colon."
For a colonoscopy, Dr. Summerhill explained that the patient is sedated but not enough to put the patient all the way under. "The patient has to be cooperative," Dr. Summerhill said. "If I need the patient to roll over, I can just say, 'Roll over,' and they'll roll over." He said this type of sedation is called conscious sedation.
"Sometimes, people don't even remember going through it," Dr. Summerhill said.
During the procedure, Dr. Summerhill said, he can remove any polyps and erosions he finds with a small snare and collect samples with a small collector for pathology to test in case the patient needs a more extensive procedure. There are also small instruments that can spray water or suck fluid out. These instruments are attached to a long thin wire that is inserted in the scope to the site where the doctor, or anyone in what Dr. Summerhill calls the "Endoscopy Guru," needs to work. Other than Dr. Summerhill, Lynn Martin and Jack Lester also work with patients who need endoscopy or colonoscopy work, and they assist Dr. Summerhill.
"The polyps grow up like little trees or bushes," Dr. Summerhill said. "We send samples to pathology, and they can tell if we got it all or if the person needs to have surgery to have a portion of the colon removed."
The colonoscopy procedure can last anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. "It all depends on what I find," Dr. Summerhill said. The EGD, however, is only 20 to 40 minutes long.
Because patients have to fast before the colonoscopy procedure, it is inconvenient for them to go to a bigger hospital that is farther away. "Instead, they can do it right here at home," Dr. Summerhill said. "We are also faster because of (patient) numbers."
"(The scope) is a real big deal for Salem and Fulton County to do this," Dr. Summerhill said.