For pain-free imag­ing, just swal­low the cam­era

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL -

YOUR IN­TESTINES can now be pain­lessly filmed by an in­tel­li­gent pill, ush­er­ing in a new era of min­i­mally in­va­sive gas­troen­terol­ogy. The tech­nique is called cap­sule en­doscopy and it uses de­vices such as Pil­lCam, de­vel­oped by the in­no­va­tive Is­raeli com­pany Given Imag­ing. Minia­tur­i­sa­tion en­ables a tele­vi­sion stu­dio to be squeezed into a de­vice about the size of an an­tibi­otic cap­sule, al­low­ing pain-free video cap­ture of the sur­face of the 6m gas­troin­testi­nal tract.

All that is re­quired is a glass of wa­ter and a trained health­care pro­fes­sional. The cap­sule is swal­lowed with a few sips of wa­ter. Then nat­u­ral peri­stal­sis (the nor­mal gut move­ments that deal with our food) pow­ers the de­vice from mouth to rec­tum and the video trans­mit­ted from the cap­sule is cap­tured wire­lessly by a small re­ceiver worn on a belt.

Af­ter nat­u­ral ex­cre­tion of the cap­sule, the re­ceiver is re­moved from the belt and the video is down­loaded to be read offline by spe­cial­ist cap­sule en­doscopy read­ers.

The tech­nique was ini­tially de­vised for the small in­tes­tine but there are now also cap­sules de­signed to scout the oe­soph­a­gus, stom­ach and colon.

Years of re­search in­di­cate cap­sule en­doscopy pro­vides imag­ing in­for­ma­tion sim­i­lar to con­ven­tional push en­doscopy (where a fi­bre-op­tic tube is in­serted into the body).

Estab­lished in 2006 by Pro­fes­sor Owen Ep­stein, the Royal Free Pil­lCam unit in north west Lon­don has car­ried out more than 3,000 Pil­lCam pro­ce­dures, ex­am­in­ing the oe­soph­a­gus, stom­ach, small bowel and colon, mak­ing it one of the first and most ex­pe­ri­enced cap­sule units in the world.

The unit pro­vides a re­gional NHS Pil­lCam ser­vice and cur­rently un­der­takes 20 to 25 pro­ce­dures weekly.

The Royal Free pri­vate pa­tients unit is now of­fer­ing the video cap­sule, where ap­pro­pri­ate, to pa­tients who pre­fer this pain­less method of imag­ing the gas­troin­testi­nal tract, which might be done as a whole-bowel health check, or to in­ves­ti­gate symp­toms.

Find­ings can be re­ported rapidly, thanks to a team of ex­pe­ri­enced full­time Pil­lCam nurse spe­cial­ists, aided and su­per­vised by gas­troen­terol­o­gists with spe­cial­ist ex­per­tise in cap­sule en­doscopy.

In most pa­tients, in­testi­nal symp­toms arise from func­tional rather than anatom­i­cal dis­or­ders. Com­mon func­tional symp­toms in­clude bloat­ing and dis­ten­sion and ir­ri­ta­ble bowel symp­toms, such as ab­dom­i­nal discomfort and un­pre­dictable bowel habit. Anatom­i­cal dis­or­ders in­clude pep­tic ul­cer dis­ease, polyps, di­ver­tic­u­lo­sis and bowel tu­mours.

Pil­lCam cap­sule en­doscopy ef­fi­ciently iden­ti­fies the likely cause of a clin­i­cal prob­lem. This then de­ter­mines whether con­ven­tional en­doscopy is re­quired (for ex­am­ple for biopsy or polyp re­moval).

roy­al­freep­ri­vatepa­tients.com, 020 7317 7751, rf.pri­va­teen­quiries@ nhs.net

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