Voyage Through the Human Body

July 5, 2012

Pill camera

It might take years for a person to accumulate 80,000 pictures of themselves. But for some patients, it only takes eight hours.

For kids with certain gastrointestinal conditions, such a Crohn’s disease, Celiac disease, tumors of the small intestine, bleeding problems and more, a capsule endoscopy procedure can be done.  The capsule endoscopy is a less invasive and painless way for doctors to see the small intestine without anesthesia.

“This procedure is a way for doctors to identify a problem or track the progression of disease,” said Dr. Amana Nasir, pediatric gastroenterologist with Mercy Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.

A patient swallows a large pill - about the size of a large jellybean - containing a small camera. The camera snaps 80,000 pictures on its voyage through the digestive system. 

The patient wears an external transmitter that collects the data while the pill travels through the GI tract. After eight hours, the transmitter is returned to the doctor and data is downloaded for review.

“The photos that we get from the capsule endoscopy help us tailor the therapy and determine what medicines we need,” Dr. Nasir said. “This is the latest technology and is recommended by NASPGHAN - North American Societyfor Pediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology, and Nutrition, for all diagnosed Crohn’s disease.”

Check out the video about the capsule endoscopy that is part of the St. Louis Science Center’s Amazing Nano Worlds exhibit running through Sept. 3.

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