New procedure may replace intrusive method for diagnosis of bowel issues
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/28/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
If one is accused of putting on airs, some people suggest that yours doesn't stink. In more serious news - the smell of feces may now diagnose certain bowel conditions without the usual intrusive methods used to diagnose various intestinal issues.
If one is accused of putting on airs, some people suggest that yours doesn't stink.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientists in the United Kingdom now say they have found a way of diagnosing different types of bowel disease by testing the smells given off by patients' stools. The new test analyses the chemical compounds emitted and recognizes the profile of different diseases.
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome, in a study of 182 stool samples were proved to be 76 percent accurate.
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Using a testing system that researchers built, the device combined a gas chromatograph and a metal oxide sensor to recognize patterns specific to known diseases.
According to the University of the West of England study, published in the Journal of Breath Research, these patterns are created by volatile organic compounds emitted from stool samples. These are a good indicator of the conditions in the patient's gastrointestinal tract.
"There is a huge amount of variation in samples because of the different foods eaten by patients, but we have trained the system to match unknown samples to the database of patterns it has already acquired. With more samples, we would get better results," Norman Ratcliffe, professor of material and sensor sciences at the aforementioned university says. The researchers specially-designed "odor reader" would get even more accurate results with more samples to test.
The method could be particularly useful for diagnosing a group of diseases that are hard to distinguish, he said.
Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS and inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, have very similar symptoms, making a definitive diagnosis difficult. However, both IBS and IBD are very different conditions.
IBD is an autoimmune disease caused by a response of the immune system to microbes in the gut, which is usually diagnosed by colonoscopy. IBS is a disorder of the digestive tract with no known cause.
It is often only diagnosed when other more serious bowel diseases have been ruled out. Under the new process, patients with IBD could be distinguished from healthy patients with a 79 percent accuracy.
"If this process is as accurate as 76% it will offer hope to those potentially suffering from IBD," Gary Douch, chairman of Bowel Disease U.K. says.
The process offered hope to those suffering from a range of bowel diseases. "If patients can be correctly diagnosed early without the invasive investigations, it will save the NHS money and also speed up much-needed treatment for the patient."
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