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Kathi Ovnic, 404/727-9371,
Janet Christenbury, 404/727-8599,
November 16, 2001


Video Capsule Technology Helps Emory/VAMC Doctors Get an Inside Look

The latest technology to detect trouble in the small intestine is now available at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

In the past, doctors have had difficulty diagnosing problems in the small intestine because they were only able to see about one-third of it by using the traditional enteroscopy, an uncomfortable procedure requiring manual insertion of a scope into the small intestine via the mouth. Now, with the help of a capsule-sized camera, doctors can obtain images of the entire small intestine with little or no discomfort to the patient.

Recently approved by the FDA, the technology was developed by Given Imaging, Inc., headquartered in Norcross, Ga. The patient simply swallows a small capsule containing a camera that transmits video images through radio frequency to a small recorder worn on a belt. As the capsule moves through the small intestine, the camera transmits pictures at the rate of two-to-three images every second, which are collected over a six-to-eight hour period. The pictures are then downloaded to a computer for analysis.

The end result is images that give doctors an inside look at what is happening with patients who are suffering from gastrointestinal problems such as obscure chronic blood loss and iron deficiency anemia. The camera also can be useful in identifying inflammatory bowel disease and in helping doctors distinguish between ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease.

"We are very excited about this product because we have been so limited in the past in attempting to diagnose small bowel problems such as obscure bleeding," said Peter Bloom, M.D., chief of the GI Section at the Atlanta Veteran's Affairs Medical Center and assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. "The quality of the images we are viewing in this area of the intestine is unprecedented. The capsule is safe and easy for the patient to tolerate, and it has the huge advantage of allowing the patient to go about his or her normal daily routine." Because it tends to get lodged in the folds of the large intestine, the device can only be used for detecting problems in the small intestine. But while the capsule is not expected to replace colonoscopy, further studies are planned by Dr. Bloom and his staff to find other diagnostic uses for this device.

The Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center is the fourth site in the country and currently the only site in the Southeast to offer this diagnostic procedure. The procedure will soon be available through the Emory Healthcare System. For more information, call Health Connection at 404/778-7777.

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