The Peninsula currently have two trusts offering Cytosponge as part of their diagnostic service, these are University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and Royal Devon University Healthcare Trust.

What is Cytosponge?

Cytosponge is a new innovative test which was developed to identify Barrett’s oesophagus – a condition that can increase a person’s risk of developing oesophageal (food pipe) cancer.  It’s an inexpensive and simple test that can be done in a GP surgery or hospital setting outside of the traditional endoscopy suite. Early trials showed that it was safe and acceptable to patients.

Cytosponge is a soluble capsule that contains a small sponge or a ‘sponge on a string’.  The patient swallows the capsule which has a thread attached.  A small sponge is release from the capsule and a trained nurse/clinician pulls on the thread to withdraw the sponge.  As the sponge comes back up the gastrointestinal tract it collects small samples of cells that can then be sent to pathology for analysis.

Why should I have this test?

Heartburn and acid reflux are common, but occasionally can lead to changes in the cells that line your oesophagus that may become pre-cancerous. Identifying cell changes (dysplasia) early is important to ensure that conditions such as Barrett’s do not progress to cancer.
The capsule sponge test allows your doctor to quickly investigate any symptoms and help you manage them. If cell changes are detected, you will be referred for further investigation and we will be able to offer treatment earlier where it is needed.

How does it work?