Are you suffering from unexplained bleeding in your digestive tract? Tried various methods and ways to find the cause but failed to? In this and similar other cases, capsule endoscopy might help
By Tasneem Sariya
Capsule Endoscopy is the procedure that entails the swallowing of a tiny size capsule which contains a camera. The camera from within the capsule takes pictures of the gastrointestinal tract and transmits it to the recorder on the patient’s body. The images help doctors diagnose and treat a multiple of intestinal diseases and disorders.
Capsule Endoscopy is becoming increasingly popular since it can allow doctors to see parts of the patient’s smaller intestine which could not be tracked earlier by the conventional methods of colonoscopy or EGD (esophagogastroduodenoscopy). EGD or traditional endoscopy is when a long tube with a camera at one end is inserted through the throat or rectum.
When you want to visualize the intestine, the upper intestine, food pipe, stomach and a small part of the intestine can be seen using an endoscope from the top end, whereas the large intestine can be seen from a colonoscope which is from the bottom end. But it still leaves about 20 feet of the small intestine that we cannot explore because the endoscope doesn’t reach there. So the idea of capsule endoscopy is that you swallow a capsule that contains a camera and the patient wears a belt with a recording device on it, and the next day morning the patient passes the capsule in his stool. All this time the camera in the capsule is transmitting images of the intestine to the recorder. So it is extremely good for the diagnosis of all small intestinal illness.
Note: The only people who we can’t do this in are those who have a narrowing of the intestines or a blockage in the intestine. In case of a narrowing in the intestine or blockage, there are chances of the capsule getting stuck.
It is relatively expensive. It costs somewhere between 40000 to 60000 rupees making the high cost a deterrent. All the capsules are imported and are made in either Israel or China. No local manufacturer makes them. So the only problem may be the cost. Otherwise, there is zero risk unless there is a narrowing of the intestine.
The capsule has the camera which by wireless transmits the images to the recorder. So if the recorder is in the doctor’s office and patient 10km away the wireless signal won’t work. It’s a small 3-inch device that we put as a belt on the patient and he spends the whole day with that.
It is not for children below 12 years because the capsule is fairly large, about two and a half centimetres and it may get stuck in the intestine. So currently, it is being used only on adults.
Hence, capsule endoscopy is definitely a significant feather added in the cap of efficient and harmless procedures in the medical field. It is a worthy combination of technology and medical sciences to help gain information to diagnose and treat patients.
With inputs from to Dr. Roy Patankar, Director and Gastroenterologist, of Zen Multispeciality Hospital, Chennai.
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