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Pill-sized camera make colonoscopies more palatable

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While most people find the idea of going for a colonscopy very distasteful, a new ingestable camera (the size of a vitamin pill) literally makes the ordeal more palatable.

Developed by Given Imaging, an Israeli company, based on technology developed from missile defense systems, the camera is able to take high-speed photos as it works its way through the intestines during its journey. Once the capsule enters the stomach, it spends about an hour there before entering the small intestine, then another 2-3 hours in that small bowel. The disposable camera then proceeds through the large intestine and leaves the body during a bowel movement. The capsule includes a low-power flash that illuminates the immediate area every time the camera takes a picture. The images are then transmitted to a receiver worn around the patient’s waist, which are later reviewed by a doctor.

Capsule endoscopies are especially helpful in diagnosing Crohns Disease (inflammation of the bowels). As well as locating polyps, malignant tumors, and even small-colon injuries caused by drugs. and also will become the gold standard for small-bowel bleeding and other problems, says Bob Westlake, a physicians assistant who practices with Spokane gastroenterologist Dr. Klaus Gottlieb, who is using the technology.

In addition to small-bowel bleeding and Crohns Disease, which is an inflammatory bowel disorder, capsule endoscopy can be used to help diagnose small-bowel injuries caused by drugs, benign and malignant tumors, and polyps.

Once the capsule reaches the stomach, it spends about an hour there before entering the small intestine, then will spend two or three hours in that small bowel, Westlake says. The disposable camera then proceeds through the large intestine and leaves the body during a bowel movement.

The main drawback to the procedure, however, is the fact that unlike tubular endoscopies, the capsules cannot be guided through the gastrointestinal tract and travels along at its own pace.

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