Capsule endoscopy: screening the bowel

Escrito por: Professor Owen Epstein
Publicado: | Actualizado: 27/01/2020
Editado por: Emma McLeod

The capsule endoscopy is an example of what wireless technology can achieve. With a simple capsule, some water and a monitor, you can have all 26 feet of your digestive tract screened. Professor Owen Epstein explains how this miniature technological marvel has altered the scope of colonoscopy screening.

 

A women is holding a clear glass of water to her lips. In order to begin the capsule endoscopy, she simply needs to consume the capsule with water.

The importance of colonoscopies

Patients opting for a screening of the digestive tract are usually referred to have a colonoscopy, which is a type of endoscopy. Colonoscopy screening programs are used to detect cancer, which is uncommon, and polyps. Most polyps that are discovered are small, benign and unlikely to progress. Nevertheless, the detection of these is one of the few ways colon cancer can be prevented.

 

“Issues” with traditional colonoscopies

Whilst a traditional colonoscopy is an excellent screening test of the 5 feet of the large intestine and offers the opportunity to remove suspect polyps, the procedure does contain some shortcomings due to its long tube and connectivity to a monitor

  • The procedure is invasive
  • It can be uncomfortable
  • It requires a day case admission into hospital
  • It can require intravenous analgia (pain medication that is inserted into a vein), sedation (or anaesthesia)
  • It is occasionally complicated by perforation (1 in every 1000).
  • The test does not provide images of the oesophagus, stomach, or small intestine, all of which are subject to disease.

 

Despite these, it is important to remember that traditional colonoscopies do have their benefits, particularly regarding the ability to remove polyps upon diagnosis and treat other conditions.

 

What is a capsule colonoscopy

A capsule colonoscopy is an alternative screening test for healthy individuals considering colon screening. The capsule endoscope is a TV studio in a “pill” that is swallowed by a patient and their natural bowel movements power the pill’s passage through 26 feet of the digestive tract (mouth to rectum). The pill will travel in the exact same way as food or drink. Whilst the capsule travels through the digestive tract, it relays a wireless video feed of the surface of the oesophagus, stomach, small and large intestine (colon). This minimally invasive scouting test screens for abnormalities throughout the entire 26 feet of the digestive organ.

 

But how can a specialist see the results?

After the disposable capsule is passed through the body naturally, the images are downloaded from a small receiver that is worn by the patient. They are then reviewed on a computer screen. No need for wires or a physical connection to a computer while the digestive tract is surveyed.

 

Benefits of a capsule colonoscopy

  • There is no need for hospital admission, sedation or pain relief medication
  • There is no risk of perforation
  • The test is completed at home

 

What if something is discovered?

In a small minority of patients, the screening test will discover a significant abnormality requiring further intervention to address it. A traditional endoscope can be used to perform a biopsy, remove polyps and/or to treat bleeding.

 

When the specialist considers it appropriate, the minimally invasive wireless capsule can be used to first look at the abnormality and, if necessary, a traditional endoscope is then used to address the issue. In short, both can be used in harmony to treat a patient.

 

Get in touch with Professor Epstein by booking an appointment via his profile.

Por Professor Owen Epstein
Aparato digestivo

El profesor Owen Epstein es un reconocido y pionero profesor de gastroenterología , con sede en el Royal Free Hospital en Hampstead, Londres. Tiene un interés especial en la innovación de la atención médica y las tecnologías utilizadas para facilitar el viaje del paciente. Estos incluyen endoscopia de cápsula inalámbrica completa (píldora) e hidrógeno o pruebas de aliento 13C para intolerancia a la lactosa, sobrecrecimiento bacteriano del intestino delgado, Helicobacter pylori y función de bomba estomacal. También tiene una experiencia considerable en la evaluación fisiológica del nervio vago y el estrés y, en particular, su relación con sensaciones intestinales anormales. El profesor Epstein ha tenido una carrera enormemente exitosa y es considerado como uno de los líderes en técnicas mínimamente invasivas y un viaje paciente más amable.

El profesor Epstein es ampliamente publicado con más de 100 publicaciones revisadas a su nombre. Es el autor principal del libro de texto de mayor venta Clinical Examination y el creador del 'Mapa de la medicina', que es un recurso clave en línea utilizado por profesionales de la salud. Fundó el Royal Free Screen Based Simulation Center, donde los gastroenterólogos médicos y quirúrgicos usan la realidad virtual para adquirir el dominio de la endoscopia y la cirugía laparoscópica antes de participar en procedimientos en vivo. Más recientemente, el profesor Epstein introdujo nuevas herramientas de evaluación mínimamente invasivas y fundó un nuevo 'Instituto de Gastroenterología Mínimamente Invasiva (IMIGe)' en Royal Free. Es director de la Academia IMIGe para la cápsula endoscópica, que enseña a los aspirantes a practicantes de cápsulas. El profesor Epstein es galardonado y, a lo largo de los años, ha recibido becas de investigación por más de £ 1 millón. Ha contribuido enormemente a las nuevas tecnologías médicas que cambian el viaje del paciente, y continúa haciéndolo.

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