Happy Birthday Capsule Endoscopy!


As we come to the end of August it seems only right that we celebrate this month marking the 10-year anniversary of the FDA approving the use of capsule endoscopy technology.

The Mayo Clinic in Arizona was among the first medical centers in the U.S. to perform examinations of the small bowel using the pioneering “pill camera” technology and since then the technology has spread across the globe to facilitate viewing the small bowel without invasive surgery or procedures.
The vitamin-sized capsule used in this process contains a very small camera which takes thousands of pictures as it travels through the patient’s digestive tract. These images are then transmitted to an external recorder and subsequently transferred to a computer for analysis.
The launch and success of this technology also led to other technological developments including balloon-assisted enteroscopy, (visualization of the small bowel using a wireless scope) where a balloon allows instruments to pass further into the small bowel than previously possible, enhancing detection of problems.
In addition to better diagnosis of disorders of the GI tract, therapy is also possible, using cauterization, to treat bleeding lesions, as well as treatment to remove polyps via endoscopes.
“Along with flexible fiberoptic endoscopy, videoendoscopy and therapeutic endoscopy, video capsule endoscopy represents one of the four revolutionary changes in digestive endoscopy,” says David Fleischer, M.D., Gastroenterology, Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Mayo has published numerous scientific papers in the field of new diagnostic tools for examination of the small bowel, and Mayo GI specialists have led national and international seminars in the field.
According to Shabana Pasha, M.D., gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic and director of the Small Bowel Interest Group, capsule endoscopy has exceeded expectations in terms of non-invasive diagnosis of the small bowel. “This has made a significant impact for patients, in that the technology is superior to other imaging techniques and allows for complete imaging of the small bowel,” she says.
The future of non-invasive imaging technology for the GI tract shows promise for capsules that are smaller, can be “steered” to travel to designated areas of the small bowel and have a longer battery life. Also under development is a pill capsule that can potentially screen for colon cancer.

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