PeePod wins national award for Newcastle Hospitals

A new medical device developed in Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to help men who suffer from lower urinary tract symptoms, is in line for a prestigious national award. A team of clinicians and scientists from the Newcastle Urology and the Department of Medical Physics were chosen as one the winners of this year’s National Continence Care Awards. The team, which consists of Mr Chris Harding and Professor Robert Pickard from Newcastle Urology, and Michael Drinnan, Alison Bray and Mike Whitaker from Medical Physics, received the award at a special event held at the House of Commons on 6 May 2014.

The Trust’s award-winning project was based on the ‘PeePod’ – a disposable urine flowmeter that patients can use in their own home. Lower urinary tract symptoms affect a third of men, and symptoms include the need to visit the toilet very frequently and very urgently, which can have a detrimental effect on quality of life. Many patients are disturbed during the night, and some feel unable to leave the house for fear of incontinence. The PeePod is an inexpensive, highly portable device that can be used by patients in their own home to test urine flow without embarrassment. It records every flow rate for up to two weeks and develops a ‘bladder diary’ to assess the pattern of toilet visits. The device is extremely easy to operate and there are no computers, nothing to write down and no buttons to press.

Michael Drinnan said: “The PeePod helps to overcome issues associated with the traditional urine flow assessment which involves coming into hospital for tests. This can be unpleasant and challenging for any man with urinary problems, but in many cases the single urine flow test is the only measurement of urinary function before surgery or other treatment. The PeePod helps us to better understand the natural variability of a patient’s habits over a period of time, and tells us how the pattern of toilet visits affects the patient’s day-to-day life.”

“We believe this patient-centred and dignified approach will reform the assessment of lower urinary tract symptoms, and remove the awkwardness and embarrassment of the testing done in clinics.”

Newcastle Hospitals received funding support for the PeePod from the Wellcome Trust, and completed the development of the instrument last year.

Preliminary clinical assessments demonstrated positive impacts in a number of areas. We showed that by taking 50 or more recordings from each man in his home, errors are about three times smaller than in the clinic. The PeePod also gives more reliable and more representative measurements on which to base treatment decisions.

The Trust has just started a larger trial at the Freeman Hospital, and given the early success of the device, we are planning a large-scale investigation with primary care colleagues. In 2014, the PeePod will be available for hospitals, clinics and primary care practitioners to buy, meaning that men across the UK, the EU and beyond could have access to the dignified assessment of urinary tract symptoms that they deserve.

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