Irritable bowel syndrome - Towards an objective diagnosis using advanced clinical imaging technology

The diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be complex for clinicians as it relies heavily on subjective measurements of patient-reported symptoms. Developing an objective test for IBS that could detect its presence and severity would be invaluable for clinicians.

Previous studies have shown that inflammation and pain in the gastrointestinal tract are associated with chemical changes in the brain. Therefore, as part of his PhD project, Nathan Tosh is working with Scott Quadrelli to determine if a more objective diagnosis of IBS can be achieved with Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS). The imaging team at TRI are utilising imaging techniques of the brain called 1D spectroscopy and the newly developed 2D MRS L-COSY to look at this disease.

So far, comparing the brains of those patients with IBS compared to healthy controls, there appear to be increased levels of certain chemicals associated with an increase in brain activity. Nathan is currently trying to determine why levels of these chemicals appear to be higher in patients with IBS, and the significance of this result. 

Do you have IBS or want to help those that do? Interested in being part of this research? Email [email protected] 

Project supervisors: Nathan’s PhD project is supervised by Professor Carolyn Mountford and Professor Graham Galloway at TRI, and Professor Ross Young at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).