Kettering General Hospital has launched a new hi-tech ultrasound scanning service that will help reduce the need for patients to have invasive liver biopsy procedures.
The service, the first of its kind in Northamptonshire, has been made possible by the purchase of a £69,500 acoustic resonance force imaging machine by Kettering and District Charitable Medical Trust.
Kettering and District Charitable Medical Trust made the donation to the hospital using part of the £515,000 donated to them from the legacy of Arthur Lloyd Simpson – a Corby man who died in 2009 aged 95.
Captain Arthur Lloyd Simpson was a war hero who was decorated for gallantry in 1945 by Field Marshall Montgomery.
He had lived in Corby since the 1960s after retiring from his job as a regional manager of an insurance company in Hull.
Kettering and District Charitable Medical Trust’s Chairman, Robert Smith, said: “This is the latest allocation from Mr Lloyd Simpson’s legacy which our Charitable Trust is administering. It will enable a significant improvement to the hospital’s hepatology services and help doctors to recognise and treat liver disease – an illness that kills more people in the UK than diabetes and road deaths combined.
“Other donations we have also made since 2009 from that legacy have included £57,000 of refurbishments at Cransley Hospice, £150,000 worth of diagnostic equipment at Kettering General Hospital (to the eye department and for bowel and breast cancer detection/treatment) and £100,000 worth of equipment for local GP surgeries.
“We are carefully considering every donation we make from the legacy to ensure that local people benefit significantly from the enormous generosity of this amazing man.”
The new machine – which was used for the first time with patients at the end of January - is a form of ultrasound scanner that can assess the degree of liver damage by using sound waves to determine the stiffness of the liver tissue (Ultrasound Elastography).
This reduces the need for patients to have liver biopsies – a procedure which involves taking a sample from the actual liver itself using a special form of needle.
Kettering General Hospital consultant hepatologist, Dr Debasish Das, said: “This is a significant improvement to the way we can test for liver damage in patients who have been referred to hospital by their GP.
“Using ultrasound instead of an invasive test like a biopsy is safer and painless for patients and the new technology means the test is also very accurate. It is also cheaper for the hospital to perform and saves the NHS about £520 per patient compared to doing a liver biopsy as there is less preparation required and no necessity to take up a hospital bed.”
Dr Das added: “The test will also enable us to reassure many patients, and their GPs, that the minor abnormalities in their traditional liver blood tests are of no significance. At the same time the test will also pick up those patients who, despite only minor changes in their blood tests, do have early or advanced scarring already in their liver and help them to receive appropriate management of the problem.”
The trust is launching scans slowly – about 12 patients per month – but expects to be able to scan up to 300 patients per year as the service becomes established.