The pill-sized camera patients simply swallow


The Daily Mail reported this week on the tiny camera that can be swallowed…and that is actually good for you. As the paper’s reporter stated, ‘it is the size of a large vitamin pill but can do far more good for a patient.’

When swallowed, this tiny camera helps doctors to diagnose illnesses by transmitting close-up images of the digestive tract.

The pill-like camera enables doctors to diagnose illnesses by transmitting close-up images of the digestive tract. So patients can get on with their lives as the £300 device, which is about an inch long and less than half an inch across, passes naturally through their body.
The battery-powered digital video camera has its own set of lightemitting diodes and a transmitter. It relays pictures to a data recorder – which is worn on a belt around the waist – at the rate of two frames a second for about eight hours.

Doctors then download information from the recorder to get a close-up of a patient’s digestive tract without the need for a hospital stay. Experts say the camera will make it faster and easier to diagnose life-threatening conditions such as stomach and bowel cancer, as well as ailments including ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease.

The device, known as the M2A, was developed by U.S. biomedical firm Given Imaging.
Over an average journey through the body it generates 57,000 colour images of the lining of the intestinal walls while the patient is free to get on with a normal day’s activities.

It is already being used by the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield to diagnose patients with anaemia and to find the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Research suggests the camera helps identify the cause of gastrointestinal bleeding in three-quarters of difficult-to-diagnose patients.

The device, the ultimate in one-use cameras, can also detect Crohn’s disease and coeliac disease. Until now doctors have relied on endoscopes or barium X-rays to look inside the body but neither gives the detail of the pictures from the new camera.

Dr Mark McAlindon, consultant gastroenterologist at the Hallamshire, said: ‘We have never had a way of seeing the small bowel like this before, now we can see all 22ft of it. It is a real breakthrough.’