Nurse Sharon Baines and Professor Gordon Carlson

New device could improve bowel cancer detection and treatment

A new device invented and developed in Salford could improve the care and safety of people being screened for bowel cancer.

Thousands of people a year in the UK have a colonoscopy – the gold standard test for the diagnosis of cancer and other conditions affecting the large bowel. Colonoscopies are also undertaken to remove benign growths called polyps which are very common and can predispose a patient to bowel cancer.

The procedure, in which a thin, flexible tube with a camera (a colonoscope) is inserted into the colon, has been in use since the 1960s and almost all acute hospitals have colonoscopy units. For most patients, it is a fairly swift and only slightly uncomfortable procedure, undertaken mainly under sedation.

But a significant percentage of people undergoing these procedures have a number of  polyps, and the colonoscope may need to be inserted several times in order to remove and retrieve them for examination by a pathologist. This increases the discomfort and the time taken for the procedure, and also the potential risk of damage to the colon.

Salford Royal Consultant, Professor Gordon Carlson and his colleagues have now invented a novel over-tube device which makes the process safer, quicker, simpler and much more comfortable for patients.

Prof Carlson has been supported in this innovation by funding from MIMIT (Manchester: Integrating Medicine and Innovative Technology), Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network and CMFT (Central Manchester NHS Foundation Trust) to develop the device and is working with TRUSTECH, the North West NHS Innovation Service, on getting it into colonoscopy units across the UK and rest of the world.

International and UK patents have been filed for the device, which allows polyps to be removed while leaving the colonoscope in place and protecting the bowel, should more than one polyp need to be removed. Successful tests of the prototype have been carried out in a colonoscopy simulator and Prof Carlson and his partner, Dr James Corden from TRUSTECH are currently liaising with international partners in order to develop it further.

Prof Carlson said: “Improving patient safety and clinical care is at the heart of our invention. This device will protect the bowel and it will improve patient comfort during the procedure. It will also considerably reduce the time taken to carry out colonoscopy and polyp removal, which will lead to significant cost savings for the NHS.”

Prof Carlson is pictured above with Nurse Sharon Baines.

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