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North East hospitals lead National Research Study

Patients in the North east of England will be the first in the country to be treated with a new technique for narrowing of the oesophagus as five of the region's hospitals take part in a clinical research study. The study is being funded by the Research for Patient Benefit stream of the National Institute of Health Research. It is being conducted at five hospitals in the North East, in partnership with the Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University, Queen's Campus, Stockton.

The trial is being led by Dr Anjan Dhar, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Darlington Memorial and Bishop Auckland Hospitals, who is the Chief Investigator. The study will look at a novel way of treating patients with narrowing of their gullet (benign oesophageal stricture) using a self dissolving stent placed at endoscopy.

Benign oesophageal stricture is a narrowing or tightening of the gullet that causes difficulty in swallowing food. Symptoms can include a sensation of food sticking mid chest, choking, coughing and vomiting.

Presently patients with this condition are treated by stretching of the gullet using a balloon passed through an endoscope (camera), and patients often require this treatment on a regular basis to keep the gullet open. During this Study,  the five hospitals will collaborate to treat patients at County Durham, North Tees, South Tees, Gateshead and South Tyneside, using a new  expandable biodegradable stent with a view to avoid the need for repeated endoscopies.

Speaking about the Study, Dr Dhar said, "This Study is the first NIHR funded Study in Endoscopy in the North East, and is supported by a collaborative initiative through the Northern Region Endoscopy Group (NREG), and Durham University. It will study whether placing a stent is clinically useful and more cost effective for the management of these patients. If successful, it will change the way we treat patients, since patients may not need repeated endoscopies and stretching and could be managed by a single placement of the stent. It will also save the NHS significant costs involved in their care."

The County Durham Study team consists of: Claire Shaw (GI Research Nurse), Staff at the endoscopy unit at Bishop Auckland (where the procedures will be carried out), Professor James Mason of Durham University and is supported by consultant colleagues in Gastroenterology and Endoscopy across all participating trusts.

It is a randomised controlled trial where patients will be allocated to two arms by a computer - one group will receive the standard treatment of balloon dilatation and the other group will receive the stent. Both groups will be followed up for a year and the results analysed by Durham University.

The Study will recruit 50 patients over a 2 year period, with results being available in 2013.

Published: 12 April 2011

'I would like to thank all the staff for my treatment and their professionalism.'

Patient, Cardiology Department, Bishop Auckland Hospital