The Nottingham Gastrointestinal Magnetic Resonance Imaging (GI MRI) group has spent 20 years developing the use of MRI to evaluate the bowel at work. Recently, colleagues at University College and Queen Mary University of London developed methods to assess motor function in the bowels of people with gut disorders.

Funded by PORT, the Pseudo Obstruction Research Trust, this study will build on their previous research to develop an MRI test protocol for possible chronic intestinal pseudo obstruction (CIPO). The test needs to be manageable for patients and useful for clinicians, and will be delivered through consultation with both groups. A small number of patients with established CIPO will be given the test and compared with a control group of patients with other bowel disorders that present similar symptoms. These results will provide the basis for a larger project that will see a successful test rolled out to other national centres.

The researchers

The project is being led by Dr Giles Major, Honorary Clinical Associate Professor and Consultant in Gastroenterology and Clinical Nutrition within the Department of Gastroenterology at the Digestive Diseases Centre at Queen's Medical Centre, University of Nottingham.

Why study MRI to diagnose chronic intestinal pseudo obstruction?

Chronic intestinal pseudo obstruction (CIPO) is a painful, distressing digestive condition in which the digestive system fails to work properly because it doesn't have normal motility. It therefore can seem as if a physical obstruction is preventing food moving through, though none exists. Though relatively rare, it can be life threatening and often affects infants and children. Many individuals are unable to eat normally because doing so causes pain, vomiting, distension of the gut and constipation.

CIPO is very difficult to diagnose currently and entails tests that are both invasive and only available in certain specialist centres. There is an acute need to deliver a test that is accessible and sensitive for patients with suspected CIPO.