North Tees and Hartlepool NHS FT (NTH) will start offering a pill-sized camera to detect bowel issues, which has been praised by patients.
It is already helping to diagnose health issues such as cancer. The camera takes thousands of pictures while traveling through the gut, which is able to examine parts of the bowel. The benefit of this is that it is able to reach areas that tests such as endoscopies or colonoscopies may not always reach.
The images are then sent to a data recorder wirelessly, which is worn on the patient’s waist. Consultant in gastroenterology, John Jacob, and Nurse Endoscopist, Dorisa Machan, are leading the procedure.
Speaking from a clinic at the University Hospital of North Tees, Dr Jacob said: “This is a fantastic development for the service.
“A procedure like an endoscopy or colonoscopy is a more invasive procedure using a tube, which can be uncomfortable for patients.
“Whereas this is a small pill easily swallowed which works its way through the gut and looks at the small bowel as well as the colon.
“We are excited to have this new capsule technology here at the organisation for this trial.
“The pandemic has given us a real impetus to work more virtually – and this will help us to do that more and more.”
It makes the trust one out of more than 40 chosen by NHS England to pilot the pill-sized camera across the UK. One of the first patients to have the procedure at the trust, Alan Frost, had an endoscopy test 20 years ago.
Following his visit to the unit, he was asked to swallow the pill, and was then fitted with a recording device on his shoulder and waist. He was then able to go home – returning to the unit later in the day to return the recorder.
Mr Frost said: “Any development which moves healthcare on has to be a good thing.
“I am amazed at this technology – it is absolutely fantastic.
“I have had an endoscopy many years ago for another issue so I am able to compare – and I can say that this is a much more comfortable and simple procedure.”
Dorisa Machan, said: “Patient feedback has already been excellent.
“In the short time we have been trialling this, we have made an impact. We have already helped diagnose a patient with bowel cancer, as a result of this capsule treatment.
“It’s a relatively simple procedure which only takes a few hours to complete once it has passed through the patient’s body.
“It’s easy and convenient for patients and helps give us the most accurate results we can.”