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Camera in a Capsule Gives Peek Into Patient's Digestive Tract
08/31/2012
Dr. Randal B. Macurak
Randal B. Macurak, MD

If you are one of the estimated 77 million people in the United States who suffer from gastrointestinal problems, this pill may be for you. Methodist Charlton Medical Center offers the M2A® Capsule Endoscopy, which is a capsule the size of a large vitamin pill with a miniature video camera inside. The patient swallows the capsule, and as it travels through the digestive tract, the camera captures color images at a rate of two images per second for eight hours. After swallowing the capsule, patients are able to continue their daily activities and feel no discomfort as the capsule travels through their system. Sensors transmit the images to a data recorder located in a waist belt worn by the patient. At the end of the eight hours, the patient returns to the hospital and the disk from the data recorder is removed. Data from the disk is downloaded to a computer where a physician can view color images on a video monitor. The capsule passes naturally from the patient’s system.

This non-invasive endoscopy procedure is especially useful in diagnosing patients who require frequent blood transfusions due to recurrent or persistent bleeding. The technology allows doctors to diagnosis problems in the lower intestine that can be difficult to detect using traditional methods of endoscopy, radiology and ultrasound. The cost of the camera capsule and accompanying equipment are usually covered by insurance.

 The view from the camera capsule is used in conjunction with small bowel endoscopies to help direct the physician during the procedure. The physician can use small bowel endoscopy to see areas of the small intestine previously not reachable and view the entire small intestine without doing surgery. The capsule used in conjunction with small bowel endoscopy also allows a physician to remove polyps, perform biopsies, and mark an area for later surgery. Prior to these new technologies, gastrointestinal diseases were often undiagnosed because of the inability to adequately view the entire small bowel area. Methodist Charlton is the only hospital in the southern Dallas area that offers these small bowel endoscopy procedures.

By Randal Macurak, MD, an independently practicing physician on the medical staff of Methodist Charlton Medical Center.

To find a physician on the medical staff at Methodist Health System, call 214-947-0000 to talk to a physician referral specialist or visit www.MethodistHealthSystem.org. Texas law prohibits hospitals from practicing medicine. The physicians on the Methodist Health System medical staff are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Methodist Health System.

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