New procedure at St Luke’s Hospital in Harborough has potential to save many lives

A new service is being offered at St Luke’s Hospital as an alternative to endoscopies.

By Laura Kearns
Monday, 1st August 2022, 1:52 pm
The cytosponge procedure is less invasive than an endoscopy – which sees a camera passed through the mouth down a long tube and checks for gastro-intestinal problems.
The cytosponge procedure is less invasive than an endoscopy – which sees a camera passed through the mouth down a long tube and checks for gastro-intestinal problems.

The cytosponge procedure is less invasive than an endoscopy – which sees a camera passed through the mouth down a long tube and checks for gastro-intestinal problems.

Instead it uses a ‘sponge’ on a piece of fine string which dissolves in the stomach and collects cells when it is pulled back up.

It is only suitable for patients with specific conditions or when checking for them, such as Barratt’s oesophagus - a condition which can increase a person’s risk of developing oesophageal (food pipe) cancer.

The procedure was recently introduced at St Luke’s with ten patients seen within a week.

It has also been available at Leicester Royal Infirmary since this January.

But the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board says it will soon be able to see hundreds of patients a year at St Luke’s who would have previously needed an endoscopy.

St Luke’s deputy sister Vanessa DeVivian said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about this new innovation and I'm very much looking forward to continuing to deliver this service in the community setting."

The move has been welcomed by councillor Phil Knowles who had campaigned for the service to be introduced.

He said: “I’m delighted to see another and important service added to those available at St Luke’s. Early indications seem extremely positive.

“As the clinicians have said, the starting figure is small but this has the potential to benefit several hundreds of patients a year.

“Now we continue to push for yet more services, clinics and clinicians to be available at St Luke’s and closer to home for the community.“