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GPs could soon offer quick scan to check for serious bowel conditions during routine appointments

GPs could soon offer patients a 10-minute scan to check for serious bowel disease during a routine appointment.

The wearable device can help doctors detect early problems such as ulcerative colitis — a painful disease that causes ulcers in the colon — and even cancers.

If something ominous is noticed, patients can be followed promptly for treatment or, if nothing serious is found, they can be immediately reassured.

It could mean that patients visiting their GP who suffer from bleeding, changes in bowel habits and abdominal pain avoid the long wait for a colonoscopy, which requires sedation and has to be performed in a hospital or specialized unit.

Currently, this is the only way to detect or rule out serious intestinal disorders.

The new device, called LumenEye, consists of a small disposable probe, about 8 inches long, with a high-definition camera at the end.

It only looks at the lower part of the colon, while a colonoscopy uses a long flexible tube and camera to examine the entire colon.

The images of LumenEye are shown on a screen in real time. Both are housed in a small suitcase, which means it is easy to transport and store, and having this scan is painless and requires no anaesthetic.

LOOK UP: A probe with a camera can detect suspicious-looking tissue in the colon in real time

LOOK UP: A probe with a camera can detect suspicious-looking tissue in the colon in real time

Colorectal surgeon James Kinross, who specializes in colon cancer treatments at Imperial College London, said: ‘If a patient has worrisome symptoms and a physical examination cannot identify a clear cause, GPs tend to refer them for a colonoscopy. It means that these services deal with everything from relatively benign problems like hemorrhoids to more serious cases, and are completely overloaded.

“This technology will not replace colonoscopies, but it will help GPs determine exactly who should be sent for further testing and who not.”

The LumenEye is already being used in more than a dozen NHS hospitals to monitor patients with ulcerative colitis.

But now there is some evidence that it can be used to facilitate the diagnosis of other conditions. In a study conducted at Imperial College London, 130 patients with symptoms such as bleeding or changes in bowel habits, which could indicate cancer or another bowel disorder, were given the test.

It was, experts said, an accurate way to spot problems that needed further investigation and eradicate the ones that didn’t. Four cases of colon cancer were picked up during the trial.

dr. Tanveer Ahmed, a GP at Shifa Surgery in Blackburn, has been trialling the device in an effort to address the nine-month wait for a colonoscopy in his area.

He said: ‘In the past, if a patient was bleeding, we could see if there was anything externally visible or do an examination with a finger. The LumenEye allows us to see inside the rectum in real time. The procedure takes up to ten minutes and is very easy to do.

‘If we have any questions, an advisor can log in and also watch the video and give an opinion. It means we can now reassure many more patients and provide reassurance that nothing serious is wrong.’

One patient in Blackburn who has benefited from LumenEye during her primary care practice is Sarah Guildford, 29, who has Crohn’s disease. The condition is similar to ulcerative colitis, but can lead to ulceration and inflammation along the entire digestive tract.

The married mother of two was diagnosed in December 2020 after suffering from debilitating cramps, pain and distressing digestive symptoms for six months.

She said, “I was given over-the-counter pain medications and told I needed a colonoscopy before they could change my medication. Since then I was on the waiting list and sometimes my symptoms were so bad that I could only lie down.’

In April, she was offered the LumenEye procedure at Shifa Surgery. “It lasted about ten minutes and I went straight home,” she added. ‘My GP sent the video to a consultant who agreed to prescribe stronger medication.

“We have repeated the process twice. I couldn’t advise other GPs more strongly to offer their patients this option.’

Weird Science: Cocktail That Burns You Like a Molotov

Doctors have warned that mixing a margarita cocktail (pictured) in the sun could lead to second-degree burns

Doctors have warned that mixing a margarita cocktail (pictured) in the sun could lead to second-degree burns

Doctors have warned that mixing a margarita cocktail (pictured) in the sun could lead to second-degree burns

Mixing a margarita cocktail in the sun could lead to second-degree burns and a trip to the hospital, doctors warn.

The drink, made with tequila and triple sec, contains a somewhat surprising main ingredient that can pose a health hazard: lime juice.

Molecules in citrus fruits can react with sunlight to cause a burning condition on the skin – phytophotodermatitis – also known as Margarita Burn.

One case, in The Journal Of The American Board Of Family Medicine, describes a 26-year-old woman who cut 24 limes for a pool party.

Within hours, she developed a painful red rash that required hospital treatment.

Your amazing body

A human femur is strong enough to support the weight of an elephant.

The femur, the longest and strongest bone in the body, connects the hips to the knees and is so strong that it has to support most of a person’s weight.

And a 2002 study by the American Association for Anatomy concluded that an adult male femur bone could carry about 2,700 kg.

The second strongest are the temporal bones, which are located at the base of the skull and protect some of the most crucial parts of the brain.