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DAMASCUS study success

17 August 2021


The James Paget is taking part in a year-long international research audit into the management of acute diverticulitis – and has been named as one of the top ten hospitals for the number of patients recruited to the study.

By the age of 70, more than 50% of the population have diverticular disease – which relates to wear and tear of the large bowel. Diverticulae are small bulges or pockets that can develop in the lining of the large bowel, as we get older. Most people do not get any symptoms however when they cause symptoms, it’s called diverticular disease and if the diverticulae become inflamed or infected, causing more severe symptoms, it is called diverticulitis (inflammation due to diverticular disease). The DAMASCUS study is investigating international variability in presentation and management of acute diverticulitis, along with clinical outcomes of patients admitted to hospital with this condition, as many could end up needing an emergency operation due to perforation of the bowel. The study is collecting anonymised data from 268 sites in 40 countries - including the UK, Australia, Italy, Spain, the USA, Canada, Belgium, Finland and Turkey - who are taking part in the audit.

Diverticulitis can include perforation of the bowel, bleeding or narrowing of the bowel (stricture), or can form fistulas (abnormal connection between bowel and bladder). These complications could be debilitating and can cause life-changing consequences in people affected by it.

Not all patients will need surgery but the study will log anonymously what happens to individuals to see if there is an association between how cases are managed and their outcomes, including whether patients are re-admitted or other interventions are required.

More than 4,400 patients are currently logged from 268 sites across 40 countries, with James Paget Hospital being sixth in the table of highest contributors to this audit in the world. The hospital is also fourth highest contributor to this study in the UK, with 23 patients added to the study just in June.

Consultant Surgeon Christopher Liao, who is leading the audit at the James Paget, said; “This research is likely to be a game-changer and will give us real-life data to be able to predict what happens to these patients, helping us to plan future intervention and treatments.”

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