Thursday, March 3, 2016

Patients Needed for Research Study on Chronic Diarrhea

The University of South Alabama Digestive Health Center is in need of patients to participate in a research study on chronic diarrhea.

Dr. Brooks Cash, professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine and a gastroenterologist with USA Physicians Group, is conducting the study in an effort to help evaluate markers to aid in the diagnosis of chronic diarrhea.

Diarrhea is a common gastrointestinal symptom that all people experience at least periodically. Some people, however, can experience diarrhea chronically, defined as intermittent or continuous symptoms for at least four weeks. There are a multitude of potential causes of chronic diarrhea, ranging from inflammatory and infectious causes to food intolerances and a common gastrointestinal condition known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Dr. Cash said the symptoms of chronic diarrhea, regardless of the cause, negatively impact quality of life.

Dr. Cash said because chronic diarrhea is so common and has such diverse causes, the diagnostic approach is very broad, often utilizing blood, stool, endoscopic, and radiologic tests.  “For some conditions involving chronic diarrhea, the diagnosis of the cause is often one of exclusion,” Dr. Cash said. “For instance, many clinicians arrive at a diagnosis when other tests are negative for conditions such as colon cancer, celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, resulting in significant expense in terms of the cost of testing as well as the patient time required to undergo these tests.”

The current research study will evaluate a panel of biomarkers in an effort to provide greater diagnostic certainty and hopefully streamline the diagnostic process for chronic diarrhea. Dr. Cash hopes the blood panel will serve as a theragnostic test, which will help determine the cause of chronic diarrhea and enable tailored treatment plans for patients.

To qualify for the study, participants must be at least 18-70 years old and have any of the following:

1. Clinical symptoms consistent with chronic diarrhea defined as intermittent or continuous diarrhea of at least four weeks duration at presentation
2. Unexplained diarrhea of at least four weeks duration.
3. Diarrhea (three or more soft stools/day) for at least two weeks after trip to a developing country in the past year.
4. Diarrhea-causing bacterial infection of at least four weeks duration.

Eligible participants will receive study-related visits and blood tests at no costs. For more information, call the University of South Alabama Digestive Health Center at (251) 660-5555.

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