University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust is one of 40 sites across the UK taking part in an innovative new cancer trial, which involves patients swallowing a miniature camera that can provide diagnoses results within a few days.
The imaging technology is a capsule similar to a large pill and is known as a colon capsule endoscopy, the cameras are the latest NHS technology to help patients have cancer checks at home. Traditional endoscopies mean patients need to attend hospital and have a tube inserted whereas the new technology means that people can go about their normal day. The cameras will help to speed up the checks, catching more cancers early when they are easier to treat.
The Gastroenterology service at Royal Stoke University Hospital has used colon capsule technology since 2017 and was introduced by Dr Arun Kurup, Clinical Lead for Gastroenterology and Hepatology, since then the service has grown to one of the largest in the West Midlands region. This early adoption of technology means the Trust was a natural fit for this trial.
Faye Baldwin is the lead video-capsule specialist nurse at UHNM, she said: “This new innovative trial will really support our patients especially during covid-19 where infection control measures mean traditional endoscopies can take longer to do than usual and helps getting more patients through quicker given the reduction in capacity with covid-19 restrictions.
“The capsules work by capturing and transmitting the enhanced optic images taken to the belt and recorder that the patient wears. There is no need for sedation or radiation like other imaging technology and only requires a short outpatient visit. The capsule is then excreted and does not need to be retrieved. The capsule takes up to 35 frames per second from its two camera heads depending on how quickly it passes through the colon and allows us to investigate the images.”
The first patient to use the new camera technology at UHNM was retired grandparent 68 year-old Kenneth Wright from Newcastle-under-Lyme, he said: “I felt privileged to be the first in our area to take part in this new initiative. This procedure is what I would describe as non-invasive and without the worries and embarrassments of having a camera inserted into the bowel and colon area. The capsule automatically transmits to a body-worn sensor for analysis and without any pain.
“Immediately after the capsule has exited you can remove the sensor belt and eat normally, for me it was two slices of toast with scrambled eggs followed by a very large bowl of porridge. Understandably, any investigation within the body causes anxiety and worry, the capsule is just like taking a larger size tablet, which people do on a regular basis and to me it seems an excellent way forward for quick, precise investigation of colon and bowel problems.”
UHNM has prioritised urgent cancer care during the coronavirus pandemic and the message to anyone experiencing symptoms is clear – do not delay, help us to help you by coming forward for care – the NHS is ready and able to treat you.