There’s a new FDA-approved stent available for draining pancreatic pseudocysts. It's called Axios, and it offers a myriad of patient benefits (think 20-minute non-surgical procedure versus two-hour open surgery).
Carmen Meier MD, of the TriHealth Digestive Institute, is the second doctor in the U.S. to use it outside of the research setting.
The Background: Who's Prone to Pseudocysts?
People typically develop pseudocysts from a condition called pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. “Most people don’t even know about their pancreas until it gives them any trouble,” Dr. Meier explains.
Pancreatitis is often caused by alcohol abuse over many years or gallstones and leads to:
- Significant upper abdominal pain
In rare, severe cases, it leads to organ failure or death. In many cases, people develop a pseudocyst, which is a fluid-filled sac in the abdomen, similar to a large blister.
Sometimes it will shrink away on its own, but if the cyst grows (sometimes, even, to the size of a melon) and gives the patient problems, the doctor will try to drain them.
Axios: No Incision, Significantly Less Procedure Time
“We used to only be able to treat them surgically, meaning the patient would need open surgery and, essentially, the surgeon would create a hole between that cyst and the stomach to let that flow out,” Dr. Meier explains. The problem with this approach, however, is that these patients are usually already sick, and open surgery puts them at risk for infection, takes longer and is generally done under X-ray guidance, meaning the patient needs to be transferred to an operating table.
Now, thanks to Axios, the doctor can drain this cyst without open surgery, so it’s faster, safer, and done under ultrasound guidance, right from the patient's hospital bedside. "We go through the mouth into the stomach," Dr. Meier adds. "So there are no external incisions."
The stent is removed after a few months. In some cases, however, your doctor may need to go back to remove infected inflammatory debris.