Medical field has by far, benefited the most from advancement in science and technology and is continuing to do so. Conventional methods are being phased out and more non-invasive techniques are being introduced which allow for better treatment and are more efficient and reliable.
Colonoscopy is a bowel examination procedure for patients . The technique involves inserting a endoscope via rectum and then the bowel is inspected. The endoscope, for those of you who do not know, is a long and thin camera.
As you may very well imagine, the procedure is not a walk in the park and is very uncomfortable for the patient. However, despite being such a pain in the butt (pun intended), the procedure is usually inconclusive and the doctors have to resort to other methods, which involve invasive techniques. According to statistics, 750,000 colonoscopies in US are not successful each year. Out of these 750,000, most of the patients are female and the unsuccessful procedures can be blamed on previous pelvic surgeries or difficulty in navigation.
Apart from the invasive techniques, which are usually the last resort, the patient may have to undergo CT scan or X-ray so that the examination is effective. At the end, the patient has spent quite a lot and has been exposed to some risky stuff as well. This is where the new technology comes in which has already been approved by US Food and Drug Administration. The gadget is known as PillCam Colon and can provide with somewhat similar image results as are collected from a successful colonoscopy. The gadget is essentially a camera which is the size of a pill and has to be swallowed in order for it to do its thing. The gadget then finds its way through the gastrointestinal tract of the patient.
The gadget has been basically created for use in examination of colon cancer and is already commercially available in 80 countries. FDA’s decision has been based on the gadget’s capability of identifying hyper-plastic polyps and adenomas which are at least 6 mm in size. In technical terms; a 69% positive agreement was found between PillCam Colon and a colonoscopy whereas the negative agreement turned out to be 81%. PillCam Colon, in essence, is a video camera which is the size of a pill and measures about 0.47” x 1.3”. The gadget is capable of capturing video from its ends at 4 or 35 frames per second. To ensure that enough lighting is present, an LED has been provided which allows for a well lit image to be captured. The gadget, once swollen, is capable of transmitting footage to a external device which records the video and is worn by the patient for approximately 10 hours.
CEO of US patient advocacy and support organization Colon Cancer Alliance, Eric Hargis, reported about the increase of number in people who are getting examined for colon cancer and said; ‘We have made tremendous strides in increasing the number of people who are getting screened for colon cancer, starting at age 50 for the average risk individual.’ He further talked about how colonoscopy is not the best option available and said; ‘Colonoscopy is the most comprehensive option, but for up to 10 percent of individuals, achieving a complete colonoscopy may not be possible. For those individuals, PillCam Colon capsule endoscopy could be an effective option to allow their gastroenterologist to complete a colon examination’
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