Endoscopic imaging: an interview with Len Farris, Vice President of Marketing, Americas, PENTAX Medical

Please could you provide an overview of endoscopic imaging and its impact on patient care?

The impact of endoscopic imaging on patient care has been enormous since the first fiber optic systems were introduced more than 50 years ago. Today, high resolution and high definition systems are used to provide clinicians and patients unprecedented images from inside the body.

An estimated 20 million endoscopic imaging procedures are performed each year in the United States. The most common procedures include colonoscopy, a screening tool for the early detection of colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of death in the United States; upper endoscopy, for the evaluation of ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or inflammation; and endoscopic ultrasound, which enables a highly detailed view of the gastrointestinal tract, as well as surrounding organs including the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and spleen.

Each of these procedures has helped doctors make more informed decisions about treatment that have improved and saved countless lives.

What significant advances have been made in endoscopy over the last 10 years?

Advances in high definition technology have transformed endoscopic imaging and the detection and diagnosis of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

Endoscopists are seeing more than ever before with the highest clarity and truest color leading to better disease detection and diagnosis.

New video processors, high definition lenses and monitors and zoom magnification have enabled identification of suspicious tiny lesions that would not have been visible with standard definition endoscopy or other imaging techniques.

Basically, endoscopists can now see inside the body with similar or better resolution than consumers can watching a movie on a high definition television.

Experts believe the increased use of endoscopy is partly responsible for a lower mortality rate from gastrointestinal cancers, and has contributed to the early detection, assessment and treatment of pre-cancerous and non-cancerous conditions.

How has PENTAX Medical contributed to advances in high definition endoscopy?

With the launch of the new PENTAX 90i high definition scopes, PENTAX Medical was the one of the first endoscopic imaging companies to break the one megapixel of resolution barrier, which is more than twice the resolution of images provided by PENTAX Medical’s previous scopes.

Recently the company launched the EPK-i®5010 Video Processor with Pentax i-SCAN™, the industry’s highest resolution, high definition imaging technology for flexible endoscopy of the gastrointestinal system.

Studies have shown that Pentax i-SCAN™ technology may improve detection and characterization of disease by digitally enhancing blood vessels and mucosal surfaces.

The PENTAX i-SCAN™ technology, through computer-based enhancement filters, reveals vascularity, pit patterns, topography and structure of potentially problematic or diseased tissue.

What are the most significant challenges facing endoscopists today?

As technology advances, the biggest challenges endoscopists face are the daily pressures to do more with less without sacrificing quality.

In addition, endoscopists are looking to improve endoscopy unit efficiency and productivity, and to discern innovation for innovation’s sake from innovation that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of patients.

Endoscopic technology has become indispensible in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. As more clinicians and health care systems recognize its clinical value and increasing incidence of GI disease, there will be a greater demand for endoscopic procedures, which could result in a shortage of trained endoscopists and gastroenterologists.

Which conditions are fueling greater use of endoscopy and why? Are patient demographics playing a factor in the rise of endoscopic imaging?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 60 to 70 million people in the United States are affected by digestive diseases. Endoscopic imaging plays an important clinical role, both in diagnosis and management, in nearly all serious digestive diseases including colorectal or esophageal cancer, ulcer, GERD, Barrett's esophagus and irritable bowel disease (IBD).

Each of these conditions is experiencing a rise in incidence due to patient demographics including advancing age, the growing obesity epidemic and lifestyle and dietary issues.

What are the range of solutions offered by PENTAX Medical?

PENTAX Medical offers a wide range of endoscopic imaging devices and solutions to the global medical community. In addition to the recent launch of the PENTAX 90i series scopes with the EPK-i®5010 Video Processor, we released the HI VISION™ Preirus™ ultrasound scanner, a new device we developed in collaboration with Hitachi-Aloka Medical, an ultrasound imaging company.

The new, state-of-the-art HI VISION™ Preirus™ delivers performance, speed and the potential to increase diagnostic accuracy compared to conventional ultrasound systems.

The super-computer speeds of the scanner improve resolution, delineation, and depth of imaging, while reducing noise, providing optical and ultrasonic visualization and potentially increasing detection and therapeutic access to abnormalities in the upper gastrointestinal tract.

PENTAX Medical also offers a range of gastroscopes, duodenoscopes, colonoscopes, sigmoidoscopes, bronchoscopes, and specialty scopes for gastroenterology, pulmonology and urologic diseases.

In addition to endoscopic imaging devices, the company developed the endoPRO® iQ™ information management system, to help drive endoscopic unit productivity. endoPRO® iQ™ is designed to leverage PENTAX’s unique computer-based processor systems to streamline procedures, better manage image data and quality metrics, and improve cost efficiencies.

What are PENTAX Medical’s plans for the future? What is in the pipeline?

In keeping with our innovation strategy, PENTAX Medical will continue to develop clinically relevant technology that is focused on advancing patient care, helping physicians be more effective, and have the potential to improve productivity and take cost out of the healthcare system.

We concentrate on Gastroenterology, Pulmonology, and Ear, Nose and Throat diseases, as well as information management specific to these specialties, and will continue to lead the market in advanced imaging as we partner with Hitachi-Aloka Medical.

We will also continue to innovate in the area of high definition endoscopy to provide clinicians tools and solutions that fill unmet clinical needs and advance patient care.

Where can readers find more information?


About Len Farris

Len Farris BIG IMAGELen Farris is vice president of marketing and a member of the Executive Management Team at PENTAX Medical, and has more than 15 years in the endoscopic imaging industry.

His career spans sales management, market assessment, global product development and commercialization of products in gastroenterology, pulmonology, vascular disease and speech-related pathologies.

Prior to joining PENTAX Medical, Farris was vice president of marketing at OmniSonics, and previously was global director of marketing, endoscopy at Boston Scientific Corporation.

Between 1987 and 1995, Farris served in the U.S. Air Force where he was Chief of Safety/Flight Safety Officer and an Evaluator, Instructor & Crew Navigator of KC-135 Aircraft.

About PENTAX Medical

PENTAX Medical is a division of Hoya Group. Its mission is to improve the standard of patient care and quality of healthcare delivery by providing the best endoscopic products and services with a focus on QUALITY, CLINICALLY RELEVANT INNOVATION, and SIMPLICITY.

Through leading edge R&D and manufacturing, PENTAX Medical provides endoscopic imaging devices and solutions to the global medical community.

Headquartered in Japan, PENTAX Medical has a worldwide focus and presence with R&D, regional sales, service, and in-country facilities around the globe.

PENTAX Medical employees represent the diverse countries where we do business, allowing us to provide innovative solutions tailored to meet local needs.


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