At the Royal Free Centre for Minimally Invasive Gastroenterology the invention of video capsule endoscopy allows us to use PillCam in order to investigate and diagnose digestive disorders without using the traditional, more invasive endoscopy methods.
PillCam is a breakthrough technology that squeezes a “TV studio” into a capsule, providing a video recording that can span the entire 7 metres of digestive tract from mouth to rectum.
How it works:
The disposable camera is swallowed with a glass of water and the video is captured using a wireless connection, much like a mobile phone. Natural peristalsis propels the PillCam and consequently, the procedure is painless. There is no need to retrieve the disposable PillCam which is passed naturally after its journey through the bowel and rectum.
By painlessly scouting the inner lining of the stomach and intestines, PillCam enables the clinician to differentiate disorders arising from the inner lining (like ulcers, polyps and diverticulosis) from those arising deep to the lining (like irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia). In a minority of patients, where the PillCam establishes an abnormality requiring biopsy or removal of a large polyp, a conventional endoscopy would then be advised.
For gastroenterologists, the initial diagnostic challenge is to determine whether the patient’s symptoms arise from mucosal damage or from submucosal sensory-motor, brain-gut disorders. PillCam video capsule transmits a wide angle video image of the mucosal surface from mouth to rectum, allowing the gastroenterologist to direct the ongoing pathway depending on whether symptoms are mucosal or sensory-motor in origin.
Symptoms that can be investigated using PillCam:
- Heartburn and reflux
- Bloating and distension
- Abdominal discomfort
- Altered bowel habit
Other indications for PillCam:
- Screening for colon polyps
- Family history of colon cancer
- Screening for Barrett’s oesophagus
- Follow up of inflammatory bowel disease