Hey guys. This is actually a blog from a good friend, Dave Sime, of Cure Crohn’s Colitis. His foundation funds IBD research, while providing valuable education and support for patients. This great blog shares new methods to test for inflammation without being violated by a fiber optic cable. We all know that when your bowels are so tender and sick the less invasive a procedure is the better it is for you physically and mentally.
Please give this short article five minutes. It’s something you can discuss with your GI and very educational. Spend a little time on his site after reading. It’s full of goodies, help, and information. His site caters to Crohn’s and Colitis, but there’s great information about general bowel health, so it can be applicable to all who visit No Solids Diet.
You can visit his site directly at: http://blog.curecrohnscolitis.org/?p=11
Or read the blog here:
How C3 have helped IBD patients avoid Colonoscopies
We know avoiding Endoscopies and Colonoscopies is something very close to most IBD sufferers’ hearts – well the good news is that there is now a valid alternative to these invasive and uncomfortable investigations when it comes to monitoring Crohn’s disease activity.
This post goes into the research carried out by our own consultant gastroenterologist Dr Daniel Gayainto a simple technique which has saved thousands of Crohn’s disease patients from the discomfort of the dreaded “‘scope”.
A better alternative to Endoscopies
Cure Crohn’s Colitis is very proud to have consultant gastroenterologist Dr Daniel Gayaas a key member of our team. As well as advising the charity on the progress of IBD research and treatment, Daniel has been carrying out some highly significant studies of his own.
Most recently Daniel has been studying the significance of an indicator of inflammation called “Calprotectin” which can be measured in stool samples
Background to the Study:
Calprotectin is a protein which comes from a type of white blood cell called a neutrophilwhich can be found in inflamed tissue. When this calprotectin protein leaks into the gut, it indicates that there is inflammation present in the area.
This is defined as a sensitive but non-specific indicator – so it can’t tell us exactly whatcaused the inflammation, just that it is present.
Along with Dr John Mackenzie, Daniel published the first Scottish study into calprotectin where they compared Crohn’s patients’ levels of calprotectin to the results of another popular monitoring technique called radio-labelled white cell scanning
What is Radio Labelled White Cell Scanning?
In short, this technique is where the patient has a blood sample taken and the white cells in this sample are labelled with a radioactive marker which shows up under certain scans. The treated blood is then be re-injected into the patient, allowing the specialist (using a special radio-sensitive camera) to see where the labelled white blood cells are going in their body.
As white blood cells frequently travel to the site of inflammation in a person’s body, this image can be used to find any inflammation “hot-spots” in the patient’s body. In Crohn’s or Colitis patients these hot-spots would occur in specific areas of the bowel, and the severity of their disease can be graded according to how intense the hot spots are in the patient’s GI tract.
Now, this type of scan is very effective, but it is also rather invasive, needs radioactive materials to be introduced to the patient’s body and also requires highly expensive equipment which not every hospital has available.
In their study, John and Daniel compared the results of these scans to the levels of calprotectin in the patients’ stool samples. They found an excellent correlation in results, which meant that they could just as accurately diagnose the severity of the patient’s Crohn’s Disease with a simple stool sample as with the Radio Scanning method.
Now, Ulcerative Colitis is much easier to monitor as, due to it always affecting the rectum, it can be gauged simply by whether the patient has blood and diarrhoea or not, but Crohn’s Disease is much harder to monitor, and up until this time the only way to keep track of Crohn’s activity had been through the radiolabelled scanning technique or through invasive colonoscopies.
Daniel and John’s stool sample method was far less invasive to the patients, requiring no blood to be removed or re-injected, no radiation, no CT scans and no colonoscopies.
The new technique was also much less risky to the patient, as it did not involve exposing them to the radiation of the scanning technique, or the irritating bowel cleaning preparations used before colonoscopies.
Finally, it was far simpler and less expensive to carry out. A hospital did not need to own bulky equipment like CT scanners, and patients could bypass the huge waiting lists for endoscopies and colonoscopies.
What’s more, the stool sample results remain stable for up to seven days, meaning they could be sent by the patient through the post, so they didn’t even have to turn up to the hospital in person.
Because of the many advantages to John and Daniel’s new testing method, it has since been adopted throughout the world as an accurate and effective means of monitoring the ongoing severity of Crohn’s disease.
In Daniel’s hospital alone – the Glasgow Royal Infirmary – they are now conducting over 800 of these tests a month, meaning that there are far fewer endoscopies necessary each month solely performed to monitor patients’ Crohn’s Disease.
This has freed up colonoscopy slots for new patients who need to know whether they have Crohn’s or not. This means faster diagnoses for Crohn’s sufferers (early diagnosis has been shown by external studies to dramatically improve patients’ quality of life) as well as for potential sufferers of bowel cancer, to whom a prompt diagnosis could mean the difference between life and death.
Ultimately, the work carried out by Daniel Gaya and John MacKenzie has meant that thousands of patients have been able to have their disease accurately monitored and treated without the need for invasive and uncomfortable tests such as colonoscopies or radio-labelled white cell scanning, which in itself will have dramatically improved those patients quality of life.
Cure Crohn’s and Colitis is funding Daniel to continue his research into Calprotectin – an exciting current study is examining whether Calprotectin levels can be used to predictCrohn’s flare-ups in patients who are in remission before they happen.
If proved, this could create incredible benefits to Crohn’s patients’ quality of life, meaning they could be pre-emptively treated to avoid having some flare-ups entirely.
Pre-treating Crohn’s Disease in this way could bypass the necessity for symptom reducing anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids, whilst saving those patients a considerable amount of unnecessary suffering.
This would not only protect patients from the side effects of such drugs, but could significantly reduce the wear and tear caused to the gut by regular flare-ups of Crohn’s disease over time.
Help Us Continue this Work
This is the type of research Cure Crohn’s and Colitis funds – our primary goal is bringing a cure to IBD ever closer and, until this is achieved, improving all aspects of patients’ quality of life.