04 March 2015
Promising idea has potential to improve the lives of people with intestinal failure
Patients being treated for intestinal failure at the Bristol
Royal Infirmary could benefit from a simple test used to measure
how salty their urine is. Clinicians at University Hospitals
Bristol have come up with the idea of using a test that is
routinely used to measure the amount of chlorine in swimming pools.
This could identify patients who are becoming dehydrated promptly
and allow earlier treatment.
Dr Jonathan Tyrrell-Price, consultant gastroenterologist
and nutrition lead at Bristol Royal Infirmary, realised that a dip
stick, known as the Quantab chloride stick - commonly used in
industry to test chloride in solution - might work in a clinical
setting to measure chloride in patient's urine. Dr Tyrrell-Price
worked with a clinical colleague, Dr Fergus Hamilton and Professor
Andy Ness, director of the National Institute for Health Research
Biomedical Research Unit in Nutrition, Diet and Lifestyle at
University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and the
University of Bristol to develop a research proposal to explore the
value of these sticks.
Professor Andy Ness said: "This is a promising idea that has the
potential to improve the lives of people with intestinal failure. I
look forward to working with Dr Tyrrell-Price and Dr Hamilton to
design and carry out the studies to show whether this simple test
can fulfil its promise"
The Quantab sticks are currently being tested on patient's
urine, with intestinal failure, in the laboratories at Bristol
Royal Infirmary. Jonathan Tyrrell-Price said: "People with short
bowel cannot always absorb oral fluids properly and consequently
managing their hydration is difficult. On the ward we use
urinary sodium to detect dehydration. I thought there must be a way
to measure salts in a solution which could be used in someone's
home. The Quantab stick was identified after discussion with the
University Chemistry department. I hope this will give greater
autonomy and better care for this vulnerable population and have
wider applications to other vulnerable groups."
The research team have recently won a grant for £10,000 from the
NHS Innovation Prize Challenge having won the Acorn Challenge. Dr
Hamilton said: "This money will ensure we can extend the use of
this stick to diagnose dehydration in other patient populations -
such as nursing home patients. This could allow diagnosis and care
to start in the community, expediting diagnosis and treatment of
sick patients, while allowing safe management in the community,
potentially avoiding hospital admissions.
Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England's Medical Director who presented
the awards, said: "Britain has a proud history of discovery and
innovation from the smallpox vaccine, to antibiotics, to the
discovery and sequencing of DNA; from the clinical thermometer, to
the ECG to MRI scanners.
"This year the innovation prizes showcase local innovations to
improve care through the use of technology, infection control and
rehabilitation, along with new ways of helping people with
diabetes. Recognition and reward of local innovations not only
promotes further innovation it is an important step in ensuring
improvement across our NHS."
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