Unique clinic has positive impact for irritable bowel syndrome

New data reveals the positive impact of a unique service designed for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  

Delivered at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the referral-only FGiD (functional gastrointestinal disorders) clinic has improved patient experience and access to effective treatment.  

Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) dietitian Samantha Plush works with consultant gastroenterologist Ryan Mathias and other colleagues to deliver services at the clinic.   

“About 40% of Australian adults have some sort of functional gastrointestinal disorder, where they experience mild to severe abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea or other symptoms, or a combination of these,” Sam says.  


“Although patients are desperate for answers, they typically end up being cycled through emergency departments and GP clinics, with no obvious clinical explanation for their experiences.”  


“Our clinic breaks this cycle, as we work with patients to understand what they are going through and from there we’re often able to offer some solutions for them.”  

Evidence also shows the FGiD clinic has reduced gastroenterology waitlist times and lowered costs to CALHN. 


Real-time ultrasound

Although patients with IBS have real, debilitating symptoms, they do not typically have abnormal results through X-ray, CT scan, colonoscopy or blood test.  

Once underlying pathologies have been ruled out using these approaches, FGiD gastroenterologist Ryan applies real-time abdominal ultrasound to pin down the location and potential causes of the IBS symptoms. 

“Via ultrasound, we can see things like constipation in particular areas of the intestine, we can show the patient what we’re looking at, and they can describe what they’re experiencing and explain where their pain is located at the same time,” Ryan explains.   


“As far as I’m aware, we are one of very few services in the country that offer real-time ultrasound in this way.”  

From there, Sam works with patients on dietary and lifestyle strategies to reduce symptoms and return them to GPs for primary care on a longer-term basis.  


Life-changing impact

Patient William says the FGiD clinic has positively affected all facets of his life.  

“The clinic has been a life-changer for me,” William says.  


“I went from being in pain every day and night, unable to ever sit comfortably or able to explain why I always felt so low energy, to training for my first ever marathon and being in the best physical shape of my life.”  

William developed chronic abdominal pain in mid-2022, which led to a hospital emergency department visit. After a year of multiple GP appointments, trialling different medications and multiple clear colonoscopies, he was referred to the FGiD clinic. 

“I was diagnosed with IBS and began to work with dietitian Sam to resolve my symptoms through preventative measures such as dieting and changes to my lifestyle,” William says.    


“My health has changed so positively; I feel like a different person!”  


“I would highly, highly recommend this clinic for anyone experiencing any functional gut disorders or unknown gut pains.” 


Speak with your GP

The FGiD clinic is available by referral only.  

Patients interested in the clinic should talk with their regular GP to determine whether it may be suitable for their specific health situation.  

Main picture: Dietitian Samantha Plush (second from right) and gastroenterologist Ryan Mathias (right) with colleagues Alice Day and Robert Bryant.