On a fantastic journey through the GI tract, the tiny pill cam has a one-way ticket out. But it is giving doctors an inside view of the small intestine. Part of the digestive system that was a no-man’s land.
“In between the stomach and the colon is about fifteen feet of bowel. And so there’s lots of stuff that can go on in that part of the intestine that we can’t see with our endoscopes,” says Dr. Michael Bays, who is a gastroenterologist on medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.
Instead of delivering medicine, the pill cam sends signals to an exterior recorder. Two images per second over an eight hour span, resulting in about 57,000 pictures.
“Prior to this we had one of two options really. One is some sort of an x-ray and that would be a CAT scan and/or a barium enema,” says Dr. Bays.
A non-surgical super sleuth, it’s used when doctors need help solving medical mysteries. It forces the small intestine to give up its secrets. But the pill cam is not for everyone.
“The first indication would be that the patient is bleeding from their intestinal tract and we can’t find it. We’ll look in the stomach, we look in the colon, we don’t see anything. So we assume that it, it’s somewhere in, in the middle. The second would be if we are concerned about Crohn’s disease,” says Dr. Bays.
Patients are outfitted in the morning….
“This first one is our eight-lead sensory belt. Once it’s connected to the patient it connects to the recorder and then this is a sensory belt, where instead of doing that, this just goes around them,” says Nicole Findley, who is a medical assistant on medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.
By the time they swallow the dime-size capsule, everything is hooked up and ready to go.
“They can do whatever they’d like, as long as they’re up and moving around, because it’s gravity-fed,” says Findley.
In the afternoon the gear is removed - the pill cam will pass naturally. This less invasive approach may make a difficult diagnosis easier to swallow.