Gastroenterologists at St. Peter’s Hospital Collaborate with Chinese Peers to Teach, Learn New Techniques

Dr. Joseph D. Choma, Dr. Yiqun “Rosemary” Zhang, and Dr. Bora Gumustop at St. Peter's Hospital

Dr. Joseph D. Choma, Dr. Yiqun “Rosemary” Zhang, and Dr. Bora Gumustop at St. Peter’s Hospital

An international collaboration between physicians at St. Peter’s Hospital and a leading Chinese research hospital will result in better, more sophisticated care for patients at both facilities.

Advanced endoscopy experts Bora Gumustop, M.D., and Joseph D. Choma, M.D., of Albany Gastroenterology Consultants, recently hosted Yiqun “Rosemary” Zhang, a surgeon and faculty member at Zhongshan Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai.

Zhang, who visited St. Peter’s Hospital for two weeks in late September and early October, proctored Dr. Gumustop and Dr. Choma on advanced endoscopic surgical procedures which are regularly performed in China and Japan but offered by very few hospitals in the United States.

The first procedure, per-oral endoscopic myotomy (POEM), was designed to treat achalasia, a swallowing disorder in which an individual’s esophagus function is impaired and the lower esophageal sphincter muscles are unable to relax. This condition can cause chest pain, difficulty with swallowing, and other complications.

Traditional treatments for achalasia include invasive procedures including pneumatic dilation, Botox injections to the esophageal sphincter, and surgery. POEM allows the physician to treat achalasia by guiding a long, flexible lighted tube called an endoscope between the layers of a patient’s esophagus, creating a small incision in the lining of the esophogus. The incision is then closed with an endoscopic clip or suture.

The other procedures, endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) and endoscopic full-thickness resection (EFTR), allow the physician to pass an endoscope into the patient’s mouth in order to remove tissues – including polyps and potentially cancerous tumors – in the gastrointestinal tract that are too large or too deep to be safely removed using standard techniques.

The advantage of POEM, ESD, and EFTR over other treatment options, Gumustop said, is the endoscopic procedures are minimally invasive, have shorter recovery times, and are less disruptive to the lives of patients.

Following her two-week stay in Albany, Dr. Zhang was scheduled to stay in the country for several months to work with collaborators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

Dr. Zhang’s visit follows trips by Dr. Gumustop and Dr. Choma to China to proctor Zhang and her colleagues at Zhongshan Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai on advanced endoscopic techniques common in the United States but rarely performed in China.

St. Peter’s Hospital performs more advanced endoscopy procedures than any hospital in New York state. For 2014-2015, St. Peter’s Hospital was rated one of the best in the nation, and the very best in upstate New York, by U.S. News & World Report for providing care for a wide range of conditions related to the digestive system. St. Peter’s Hospital was ranked 36th in the nation for gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery and it was rated highest in upstate New York in the same category.

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