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
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.