ESWT treatments are shocking patients back to health
Chronic tendinitis, soft tissue injuries and orthopaedic conditions such as tennis elbow and Achilles’ heel bring pain and misery to thousands of patients every year. For those patients who do not benefit from a course of physiotherapy and for those who are deemed ‘unsuitable’ to undergo invasive surgery to cure the problem, the outlook is bleak as they are sentenced to a life of discomfort.
However, thanks to advances in technology over the years, patients across Europe, and more recently in the UK, are benefitting from Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT). After recognising surgeons in the UK had an unmet need when it came to the treatment of patients with complaints of chronic pain, Spectrum Technology was set up in 2007, specifically to import the Swiss DolorClast device into the region’s healthcare sector.
Manufactured by Swiss company EMS (Electro Medical Systems), the Swiss DolorClast is an FDA approved ESWT machine that was derived from the practice of lithotripsy. The device transmits low-energy shockwaves through the patient’s skin to their injured body part. This causes an inflammation-like response in the injured tissues, which then encourages the body to increase blood circulation, blood vessels and metabolism. These actions boost the body’s natural healing process by increasing cell production and dissolving calcium deposits, one of the common causes of tendinitis.
“The feedback on the whole has been very positive,” says Jim Westwood, a Managing Partner at Spectrum Technology. “It benefits all parties; the surgeon, the patient, the insurers and the NHS. Rather than surgeons having to say, ‘Sorry, there’s not a lot I can do for you,’ they can offer this non-invasive procedure. It works in eight out of 10 cases and the surgeons don’t feel that they are letting the patient down by not being able to do something for them.”
In the UK so far, over 100 clinics are using Swiss DolorClast technology to treat patients. Although the majority of these are private clinics, there are 15 NHS centres that have introduced the device too. “There are also a number of Premier League football clubs that are using it,” Westwood adds. EMS has also supplied the Swiss DolorClast device to the last four Olympic Games and while appearing on BBC Radio Four in February, David Silver, a UK-based Musculoskeletal Radiologist who is offering ESWT treatments, said four devices would be used in the Polyclinic at this year’s Games.
Swiss DolorClast devices range in price and start from £10,000. Not only does Spectrum Technology sell the devices to hospitals and clinics, it also rents them out and offers them on a pay-as-you-go scheme.
In regards to the future use of Swiss DolorClast and ESWT treatments, Westwood says making them more available in the NHS is one of Spectrum’s priorities. The company is also looking at diversifying its uses. “There are new indications coming forward for what the device can be used for and one of them is for repairing non-healing diabetic foot ulcers.
“We are confident it will become a widely accepted technology,” he finishes.
The Healthcare Global magazine is now available on the iPad. Click here to download it.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”