By Jennifer Sun, MD, MPH August 4, 2017:
When I was an intern rotating through the emergency department, my attending assigned me a patient who had just arrived complaining of blood in his stool. The attending pushed a blank medical intake form into one of my hands. Into the other, he placed a clear plastic cylinder. “Here. You’ll be needing this.” he told me. Puzzled, I asked him what the object was. “You’ve never used one before? Then I will teach you something valuable today. No matter what field of medicine you choose to go into, this will come in handy!” he said proudly. “It is an anoscope!”
“I’m going into ophthalmology,” I said. “Oh, OK maybe not so handy then,” he said. “But go use it anyway to see if that guy has hemorrhoids.”
I am happy to say that in the decades since, I have never once had the opportunity to perform another anoscopy. But it is just possible that I may have to resurrect that skill in the future; the connection between the gut microbiome and diseases of all kinds has become a very hot field. It has long been established that the microbes existing on and within the human body have multiple useful functions, including strengthening the immune system, providing protection from autoimmune diseases and aiding in metabolism and digestion. Recent work has focused on additional specific and far-reaching effects of the microbiome on diverse aspects of human health such as aging, neurocognition, autism, allergy, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and diabetes. There are a few researchers who have additionally begun exploring stool collection and direct sampling of gut flora for studies on ocular diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and uveitis.
Read More: The JAMA Network