Nobel Prize winner Australian physician Barry Marshall has come up with a path-breaking discovery to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS– a belt that listens to your poop.
Yes, you heard that right. The belt, which is being developed by him and his colleagues, will record the creaks and undulations of the gut and then use a software to analyze it. And bingo! You will have your distinct sonic signature of IBS
IBS is a common disorder that affects the large intestine and causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. According to irritablebowelsyndrome.net, IBS leads to $1.6 billion per year in health-related spending in the US.
Marshall, according to The New Yorker said that IBS is a "diagnosis of exclusion," which means doctors consider the disorder after more serious possibilities are ruled out. For this trend, patients have to go through uncomfortable tests such as colonoscopy, biopsy and stool sample tests before they are rightly diagnosed with IBS.
Marshall believes his new technique will diagnose IBS more quickly and directly. For centuries, doctors who are used to press their ears and listen to the heart and lungs of the patient to figure out the ailment, may now depend on this device to listen to the stomach. Marshall describes the ailment as "a mortality problem" and suggests listening to it will help.
And with modern technology coming together with age-old and tested techniques, IBS probably would be a cure in no time. Also, the high-tech gadget will listen to the gut movements for a couple of hours, which is not possible by any other device or physician.
How will it look?
The New Yorker quotes Marshall saying that the device will be straightforward. It will consist of a Velcro waistband, similar to the one workers at the airport wear to support their backs. The belt will also have a series of pea-size microphones, but they will smooth as they come in contact with the skin.
After a few trials, the researchers have trained the software to recognize a sonic signature for IBS and distinguish between patients who have the disorder and those who don't.
Marshal also said that he got some of his inspiration from his son, who helps analyze seismic data from the seabed, which helps to find undiscovered reserves of petroleum. The physician also knew about gunshot-detector systems and how they work. He was also introduced to a tiny store-bought acoustic device for detecting infestation of termites.
In 2005, Marshal shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering that peptic ulcers are caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori and not stress as it was believed in the past. This finding completely altered the ways the ulcer is being treated. Antibiotics can now be used to treat the ailment instead of associating ulcers with stomach cancer.