Your doctor may soon be able to detect more than just polyps during your colonoscopy. A new optical sensor can accurately detect different types of inflammatory bowel disease and can be incorporated into routine colonoscopies.
Inflammatory bowel disease, which includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, affects about 1.6 Americans. Symptoms of IBD include persistent diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping, rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fatigue. There is no cure for IBD, but once IBD has been diagnosed, the symptoms can almost always be effectively managed. Currently, diagnostic and treatment procedures for IBD are inexact and rely on trial and error, so this new method has promising potential.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University developed a custom endoscope that uses the chemical fingerprinting technique Raman spectroscopy to isolate molecular markers of IBD in the colon. Not only can the sensor identify IBD, but it can distinguish between ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
“With current methods, ultimately the diagnosis is dependent on how the patient responds to therapy over time, and you often don’t know the diagnosis until it’s been a few years,” said Anita Mahadevan-Jansen, the Orrin H. Ingram Professor Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University, senior author of the paper, who initiated the project after a personal experience with IBD. “That’s why we decided to use a light-based method to probe the biochemistry of what’s going on in the colon. Our goal is to use Raman spectroscopy to look at the actual inflammatory signals.”
The research group from Vanderbilt is working on a set of algorithms that will help doctors interpret patients’ test results. In the near future, they hope to design a system that combines patient information with Raman spectra technology that produces tailored results to inform diagnosis or track patient response to treatment (Source: Vanderbilt University News).