Goodbye Colonoscopy? Exam Uses Capsule to Take Pictures of the Intestine

Goodbye Colonoscopy? Exam Uses Capsule to Take Pictures of the Intestine

 

Goodbye Colonoscopy? Exam Uses Capsule to Take Pictures of the Intestine

Anyone who has undergone a colonoscopy knows that it is a long and rather uncomfortable procedure.

To prepare, many doctors advise the patients to undergo certain diet or fluid restrictions, often involving oral laxatives or limiting solid foods a few days prior to the test. The actual examination lasts for about 30–60 minutes, and the patient is usually on medications to help them relax during this time. The patient lies on his left side while the doctor anally inserts a long, flexible tube that goes through the colon and sends images of the lining to the doctor to check for abnormalities.

The patient may feel cramping during this procedure, but all of this discomfort is necessary to ascertain whether abnormal growths or other issues are occurring internally and are causing abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or other symptoms. [1]

As the medical field progresses, experts work on ways to improve procedures, to make them easier, quicker, and more comfortable for the patient. That time has come for colonoscopies. Forget the sedation and invasive insertion. All that this procedure entails is one large pill,  various sensors placed on the abdomen, which are then attached to a portable belt you wear over your shirt.

Capsule Endoscopy

Brazil approved of this technology almost four years ago and now it’s becoming increasingly common in other laboratories and diagnostic centers around the world. Loyola Medicine’s digestive health program is the first of its kind in Chicago to offer this method.

Anyone who has undergone a colonoscopy knows that it is a long and rather uncomfortable procedure.

To prepare, many doctors advise the patients to undergo certain diet or fluid restrictions, often involving oral laxatives or limiting solid foods a few days prior to the test. The actual examination lasts for about 30–60 minutes, and the patient is usually on medications to help them relax during this time. The patient lies on his left side while the doctor anally inserts a long, flexible tube that goes through the colon and sends images of the lining to the doctor to check for abnormalities.

The patient may feel cramping during this procedure, but all of this discomfort is necessary to ascertain whether abnormal growths or other issues are occurring internally and are causing abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or other symptoms. [1]

As the medical field progresses, experts work on ways to improve procedures, to make them easier, quicker, and more comfortable for the patient. That time has come for colonoscopies. Forget the sedation and invasive insertion. All that this procedure entails is one large pill,  various sensors placed on the abdomen, which are then attached to a portable belt you wear over your shirt.  

Capsule Endoscopy

Brazil approved of this technology almost four years ago and now it’s becoming increasingly common in other laboratories and diagnostic centers around the world. Loyola Medicine’s digestive health program is the first of its kind in Chicago to offer this method.

Instead of inserting a tube with a camera, the doctor gives the patient a pill with a camera device inside it. The patient swallows it, and the pill takes thousands of pictures as it works its way through the gut, and transmits them to a data recorder the patient wears around the waist.

Best of all, it’s able to check parts of the bowel that a traditional colonoscopy is unable to reach, like the small intestine.

Capsule Endoscopy vs Colonoscopy

Colonoscopies are still considered the gold standard for diagnosing lower gastrointestinal diseases [4], however, they do have their limitations. The major one being their inability to visually inspect anything beyond the colon like the small intestine. Typically capsule endoscopies are reserved for instances where traditional endoscopies or colonoscopies have failed [5]. Colonoscopies also allow for the concurrent treatment of intestinal polyps (via polypectomy) whereas capsule endoscopies only provide passive visual information.

Risks of a Capsule Colonoscopy

Overall, this is considered a very safe procedure, but there are a few risks. A fear that many people have when they hear about this process is that the camera pill will get “stuck” in the digestive tract instead of leaving in a bowel movement. It’s a small risk, but it’s more likely to occur with people with tumors, strictures, Crohn’s, surgeries in those areas, or other conditions that cause a narrowing in the digestive tract. If this is a cause for concern, your doctor will have CT scan before prescribing the procedure to check for this narrowing.

If the patient doesn’t see the capsule in their bowels for two weeks after the colonoscopy, it’s recommended to contact the doctor for an X-ray to see if it’s still there.

However, the risk of this is small, and a capsule colonoscopy is more comfortable and less intrusive than the traditional kind, which many patients are thankful for.

So, can capsule endoscopy replace a colonoscopy? In certain circumstances, yes, however, this decision will ultimately be made by your doctor. Overall, colonoscopies are still considered the gold standard in most situations, though capsule endoscopy is certainly a welcome addition to doctors and patients alike.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication.

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