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40 Force: Colon Cancer – Pill-Sized Camera Can Give Doctors an Inside Look


(WGGB) — Just within the last few weeks, the FDA approved a new, very high-tech procedure that will soon be available right here in western Mass.

It’s called the PillCam Colon II, and as the name suggests it looks like a pill.

Inside are two high resolution cameras and as you might have guessed, all you have to do is swallow it.

The future of medicine is here and you can hold it in the palm of your hand.

Made by Given Imaging, this pill is actually two tiny cameras that can safely travel the entire length of your GI track snapping high resolution pictures at a rate of up to 35 a second.

If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like in there, here it is.

Right there – displayed on a computer screen – is a polyp.

“The pill itself has LED lights. It has a lens. It has a transmitter. It has a receiver…GPS…so it knows where it is in the gastrointestinal tract,” expalins Dr. Ira Schmelkin of Noble Hospital.

For now, it won’t take the place of the colonoscopy.

It will be used in the small minority of patients, about four percent, whose large intestine just doesn’t allow for a full scope.

In fact, Dr. Schmelkin, who helped in the PillCam’s development, let me try one out.

The procedure involves wearing a sensor belt and data recorder, which is about the size of a Walkman.

That means the pill itself is disposable – thank goodness.

And down it goes, first to the back of my throat, then through my esophagus and into my stomach. In eight to ten hours, it will complete it’s journey.

Dr. Schmelkin then downloads the images from the data recorder to his computer and checks for polyps.

No discomfort – no sedation, but again, the pill isn’t yet taking the place of a colonoscopy.

It’s just an added weapon in the fight against colon cancer.

Also, as with a colonoscopy, you have to evacuate your bowels before taking the pill cam.


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