From Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) Ostomy Outlook April 2001:

Ever Undergone Endoscopy?
Wish There Were Another Solution?

by Bob White, via S. Brevard (FL) Ostomy Newsletter

Well, there may be some hope in the future. A very small experiment, recently undertaken in London, explored the idea of a small capsule, containing a miniature video camera, light source, batteries and a radio transmitter - capable of being swallowed!

As reported in an article carried in the New England Journal of Medicine, a group of doctors at Royal London Hospital, in London, conducted the experiment on four patients. These varied in age from a 78-year-old man to a 16-year-old boy. All had experienced bleeding in the small intestine, requiring the infusion of large amounts of blood.

The device itself transmits video images to aerials taped to the body, thus permitting the signals to be received and recorded on a portable recorder, capable of dealing with a period of six hours. The position of the capsule within the intestine is determined by the strength of the signals. The device is expelled within 48 hours.

With the approval of the hospital's ethics committee, the patients swallowed the device. All four patients reported that the capsule was "easy to swallow," painless, and preferable to conventional endoscopy. The images received permitted the group to receive good pictures from the mouth to the colon, successfully imaging pathological anomalies in the small bowel. Results of prior surgeries did not seem to hinder the movement of the capsule.

This information was helpful in directing further treatment in the patients. True, the procedure is not capable of biopsies or therapy; however, it was felt that it could prove "valuable in the assessment of bleeding in patients" who had had negative results with gastroscopy.

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Content last revised 2001-04-14