During a colonoscopy, a specialist (a nurse or doctor) uses a thin flexible tube (a colonoscope) with a camera on the end of look inside the patient’s bowel. They check for cancer, and also for small growths called polyps that could lead to cancer in the future. Polyps may then be removed.
The scope guide give the specialist an image on the screen of where the colonoscope is within the bowel, and the shape it is in. This highlights issues such as the scope bending or looping within the bowel, and allows this to be corrected more easily. A colonoscopy can be unpleasant for the patient, and being able to see exactly where the scope is allows the specialist to move the scope more confidently and address issues more easily. This leads to much more comfortable procedures for patients and may even reduce the time taken for a procedure.
Dr Mark Smith, Consultant Gastroenterologist, explained to us that screening for bowel cancer will be changing later this year, and the new test will be more effective.
This is likely to lead to more people going forward for colonoscopy procedures. While it is great that more people will be accessing important procedures (and as a result, being diagnosed more efficiently), the hospitals will need to build capacity in their departments to cope with the additional demand. Equipment such as these Scope Guides will really help towards this, as it helps to make procedures more efficient.
Sarah Harnden, a specialist nurse at RSH who also oversees training in the department, explained that this purchase will also help the trust in training new staff to perform colonoscopies. SaTH trains up to 20 people each year, from inside and outside the trust, to deliver such procedures and the Scope Guides make instruction much simpler, as trainees are given a clear image of the progress of the colonoscope. The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is one of only about 20 hospitals in the country to have such an active training facility in this field and we are pleased to support this excellent work.