A Cheap Pill-Sized Camera is Here to Replace Expensive Endoscopy

A Cheap Pill-Sized Camera is Here to Replace Expensive Endoscopy

According to a research done by US scientists, reported in the online edition of Nature Medicine journal, a swallowable camera-in-a-capsule could help doctors spot early signs of esophageal cancer.

This pill-sized camera contains a rapidly rotating laser that shines a beam of near-infrared light onto the wall of the esophagus, or gullet, the pipe that carries food to the stomach. Sensors record the light reflections and produce detailed microscopic images that can reveal cell changes associated with Barrett's esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition linked to heartburn and acid reflux. A string-like tether allows the device to be pulled back up and transmits images to a monitor.

In tests on 13 unsedated volunteers, including six with Barrett's esophagus, the capsule was able to image the whole gullet in less than a minute. The full procedure involving four passes down and up the esophagus took just six minutes. Current screening for Barrett's esophagus through endoscopy takes well over an hour and involves passing a flexible telescope down a patient

Professor Gary Tearney, from Massachusetts General Hospital, was initially concerned that the details might be missed because of small size of capsule but said, "By showing the three-dimensional, microscopic structure of the esophageal lining, it reveals much more detail than can be seen with even high-resolution endoscopy".

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