Introducing Capsule Sponge Tests in Wales (Powys)

Status Active
Programme Early Detection & Diagnosis Funding Call
Partners Powys Teaching Health Board

Project Lead(s)

Dr Ruth Corbally

Dr Ruth Corbally

GP & Clinical Lead for Cancer Renewal Programme, Powys Teaching Health Board


Powys Teaching Health Board is now one of the first in Wales to use the EndoSignTM capsule sponge test, a minimally invasive, non-endoscopic system that has been developed to allow the sampling of cells lining the oesophagus.

With clinics underway from the first week of October (2023), this exciting work offers patients a less invasive and more easily tolerated procedure, while exploring the potential these tests have to alleviate the current pressures on endoscopy services, and bridge the gap between demand and service provision.

The device itself is a small sponge that is initially contained within a capsule the size of a multi-vitamin pill. It has a string attached and is swallowed with a drink of water. The capsule will then dissolve in the stomach, exposing the sponge, and the device is removed after approximately 7-8 minutes, collecting cells from the lining of the oesophagus as it is withdrawn.

There is no need for sedation or local anaesthetic (throat spray), and the procedure can be carried out in an out-patient setting. The whole process can reasonably be completed in 15-20 minutes and requires vastly less equipment, infrastructure and staffing resource than a diagnostic UGI endoscopy.

In developing this capsule sponge test service for the surveillance of Barrett’s Oesophagus patients, Powys Teaching Health Board are:

  • Identifing patients on routine waiting lists who are at high risk of cancer and require urgent endoscopy.
  • Assessing the feasibility and acceptability of the use of EndoSignTM in a Community Hospital setting, helping facilitate the anticipated further clinical roll out and ensure good uptake within the target population.
  • Training staff members on the use of EndoSignTM to enable the anticipated wider roll out across Powys Teaching Health Board in a community setting.

We are also supporting Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to introduce Capsule Sponge Tests. Find out more about how that work is progressing here.

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