A Heritage of Loving Service: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Tucson
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Heritage: The Story of St. Mary's Hospital, 1880-1980
By Leo G. Bryne and Sister Alberta Cammack, C.S.J

Chapter III Contemporary St. Mary's
Gastroenterology Laboratory

In July, 1975 St. Mary's Gastroenterology Laboratory was formally opened. Previous to 1970, few such laboratories existed, as their development depended upon the improvement and availability of instruments called fiberoptic endoscopes.

These instruments, which are very flexible devices composed of thousands of tiny fibers bound together in bundles of up to six feet in length, provide the physician with a clear visual image of the interior of the gastrointestinal tract. Depending upon their design, endoscopes can be inserted orally or rectally by the endoscopist. The first four inches of the endoscope's insertion tube are designed as a remotely controlled bending section which can be maneuvered through the intricate turns of the gastrointestinal tract. Numerous trans-endoscopic instruments have been developed to aid the physician in obtaining tissue samples and even in the performance of certain specialized samples and even in the performance of certain specialized remote-controlled surgical procedures for the removal of polyps within the tract. Tissue thus obtained is removed from the patient either by passage of the trans-endoscopic instruments back out of the endoscope or by withdrawal of the endoscope gently while the obtained tissue is held against the instrument's tip by carefully applied suction.

The G.I. Laboratory is a therapeutic and diagnostic facility which provides equipment, space and specially trained technicians to assist physicians in the performance of a variety of tests and procedures. Endoscopic assistants provide additional trained hands to aid in these many procedures. Working as a team, the physician-endoscopist and his assistant can direct and control the endoscope's insertion tube in a smooth and efficient manner. Several hands are required to control simultaneously the angle and direction of the insertion tube, as well as to operate the various trans-endoscopic instruments and camera.

Over sixty gastroenterologic procedures are currently offered by the G.I. Laboratory. Fluoroscopic support is provided both to delineate the excursion of instruments for esophageal dilation and to allow the conduct of colonoscopic examinations in a manner which permits the examining physician freedom to observe his patient both internally through the endoscope and fluoroscopically on an adjacent TV screen at the touch of a remote control pedal. This substantially enhances the endoscopic team's ability to maneuver the colonoscope within the patient and results in reduced procedural time and in improved patient comfort.

Continue with Chapter III: Contemporary St. Mary's Clinical Laboratory

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