Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) as a diagnostic tool in the intensive care unit

Raymond P. Onders*, Michael F. McGee, Jeffrey Marks, Amitabh Chak, Michael J. Rosen, Anthony Ignagni, Ashley Faulx, Steve Schomisch, Jeffrey Ponsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Background: Autopsy studies confirm that many intensive care unit (ICU) patients die from unrecognized sources of abdominal sepsis or ischemia. Computed tomography (CT) scans can be of limited use for these diagnoses and difficult to obtain in critically ill patients who require significant support for transport. Bedside laparoscopy has been described but still is cumbersome to perform. Bedside flexible endoscopy as a diagnostic tool or for placement of gastrostomy tubes is a standard ICU procedure. Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES) can provide access to the peritoneal cavity as a bedside procedure and may decrease the number of patients with unrecognized intra-abdominal catastrophic events. Methods: Pigs were anesthetized and peritoneal access with the flexible endoscope was obtained using a guidewire, needle knife cautery, and balloon dilatation. The transgastric endoscope was used to explore all quadrants of the abdominal cavity. The small bowel was visualized to complete the exploration. The transgastric access location was then managed with the use of a gastrostomy tube. The animals were euthanized and analyzed. Results: Eight pigs were studied and complete abdominal exploration, including diaphragm visualization, was possible in all cases. Endoscopy-guided biopsies were performed, adhesions lysed, and the gallbladder successfully drained percutaneously. The small bowel was run successfully with percutaneous needlescopic suture graspers. Conclusions: These animal studies support the concept that NOTES, with management of the gastric opening with a gastrostomy tube, may be another approach for finding unrecognized sources of abdominal sepsis or mesenteric ischemia in difficult ICU patients. These encouraging results warrant a prospective human trial to assess safety and efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-683
Number of pages3
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2007


  • Endoscopy
  • Intensive care unit
  • Natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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