Lower GI physiology unit
The lower gastrointestinal (GI) physiology unit provides outpatient clinics, investigations and treatment for patients suffering from benign problems such as incontinence, constipation, prolapse and irritable bowel syndrome.
The service aims to provide a high quality service with patients receiving a diagnosis, counselling and treatment. The unit offers a light, comfortable and airy environment, which has been specifically adapted for our patients. The location of the unit, in the Lancaster Suite near to the main entrance on Church Lane, means it’s easily accessible.
People are often too embarrassed to seek help if their problem is associated with bottoms or bowels. Men and women of any age can be affected, with the quality of life for some people being very poor. Depending on the problem it can impact on personal relationships, their work, home life and it can leave people feeling very isolated and low.
Between two to five per cent of people in the UK suffer with either faecal incontinence or constipation following damage to the anorectal muscle. This can happen as a result of childbirth, following surgery or as a result of other medical conditions. Often the problems associated with injuries of this kind may not become evident until later life.
Investigations carried out include anorectal manometry and endoanal ultrasound. These tests examine the anorectal muscles in detail; the strength and function of the muscle as well as looking at the damaged tissue or for more serious conditions such as tumours.
What happens during the test?
You will be asked to wear a hospital gown for the procedure and lie on your left side, covered with a sheet. Every effort will be made to preserve your privacy and dignity during the procedure but the nature of the test means that some ‘intimate’ contact is unavoidable. For the test, a small tube is put into your back passage (rectum). This will measure the pressure of the muscles in your rectum and anus. At different times you will be asked to cough, and to squeeze your bottom. A small amount of air will be flushed into the balloon at the end of the tube. This will simulate the normal filling of your rectum and will show how your bowel responds to this. You will need to tell us when you are getting any sensations of your rectum filling. A second test will then be performed which is an ultrasound scan of the muscles in the wall of your bowel. The probe, which is about the size of an adult finger, will be positioned inside your rectum and the scan will take place.Following analysis of the results patients can be offered a range of treatments.
Treatments include biofeedback counselling, which helps to retrain the ano-rectal muscles. This takes place over a several months enabling the patient and nurse to establish a trusting relationship. This is important as for many people, talking about their symptoms is difficult or embarrassing. This treatment improves the function of the muscle without the need for surgery, leading to the promotion of continence and improved quality of life for these patients. Other treatments offered are percutaneous tibial nerve stimulation PTNS and rectal irrigation.
Patients can be referred directly to the unit from their GP.