An itty-bitty, teeny tiny camera that’s no bigger than a small pill will make the idea of getting a colonoscopy much easier to swallow. The miniature pill-shaped device, approved by the FDA this week, is really a camera that will allow doctors to perform colonoscopies without the standard equipment. This traditional equipment is not only very uncomfortable but is also prohibitive for many people seeking the procedure, such as those who have certain pre-existing conditions and prior surgeries. This new device will allow more people to have the exam done without fear of complications.
That’s because it is literally a pill that is ingested by the patient. The makers of the pill promise not only a more comfortable experience for the person getting the colonoscopy; they also say that doctors will enjoy better coverage of the area they need to examine and will receive much crisper, clearer pictures. Additionally, the use of the pill cam will reduce the time it takes to process the pictures from the colonoscopy exam.
Those who will not be able to use the new pill cam include people with swallowing disorders, patients with pacemakers and certain other implantable devices, and patients who suffer from gastrointestinal obstructions.
The risks associated with use of this tiny camera include possible aspiration of the device into the lung, “capsule retention” which is described as not passing the pill within two weeks’ time, and skin irritation. Another mode of delivery, called transendoscopic delivery, increases the risk of serious side effects such as cardiac problems, respiratory arrest and perforation. Transendoscopic delivery is sometimes administered in cases where the patient has a swallowing disorder or other pre-existing condition that contraindicates the normal use of swallowing the device as a pill. Regular colonoscopies also carry numerous risk factors.
The manufacturer’s website states that the pill can be used to find lesions and other indications of disease that are not able to be detected by a traditional endoscopy. The pill may be used by anyone who does not have any contraindications, and has been approved for use in children ages two and up as well as for adults.
The pill containing the tiny camera is disposable, so there is no need to retrieve it after it passes from the body. It is able to transmit data to the patient’s physician as it travels through the colon. A belt containing a data recorder is worn by the person receiving the procedure, which is completely painless. It takes about ten hours for the pill to make its way through the patient’s digestive tract, all the while capturing crystal clear images which are transmitted to the recorder. At the end of the procedure, the patient returns the data recorder to their physician’s office and waits to receive the results. There is no disruption to the patient’s normal daily routine during the time they have the camera in their body, and after they swallow the pill, it is completely unnoticeable.
A new, tiny camera now makes getting a colonoscopy an easier pill to swallow. It’s pain-free, more efficient and cheaper than traditional colonoscopies. In addition, the procedure will allow patients who are not able to get traditional colonoscopies to have the potentially life-saving exam with a minimum of hassle and discomfort.
By: Rebecca Savastio