Researchers at George Washington University have developed a groundbreaking magnetically controlled capsule that can navigate the stomach using joysticks. This revolutionary device, known as NaviCam MCCE, offers a unique approach to capturing images of specific areas of interest, setting it apart from traditional pill cams that rely on natural gut movements and gravity.
Conventional endoscopy involves inserting a flexible tube with a camera into the upper gastrointestinal tract to investigate stomach-related issues. On the other hand, capsule endoscopy using swallowed pill cams has been less invasive since the early 2000s but lacks the ability to target specific areas in the stomach.
Driven by the need to evaluate potentially life-threatening gastric complaints without hospital admission, lead author Andrew Meltzer spearheaded the development of the NaviCam MCCE.
The researchers conducted a study involving 40 adult patients who required an endoscopic evaluation for symptoms like stomach pain, bloating, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, anemia, or weight loss. Patients fasted before the procedure and then swallowed the magnetically controlled capsule after consuming a solution with simethicone to reduce gas. By manipulating the capsule’s movement using joysticks, the doctor could capture videos and still images of any bleeding, inflammation, or malignant lesions. The NaviCam provided an impressive 160-degree field of view with high-resolution video transmission.
Results demonstrated the effectiveness of the magnetically controlled capsule, as it successfully visualized all anatomical regions of the stomach and achieved a 95% visualization rate for identifying abnormalities. In addition, compared to traditional endoscopy, the new method did not miss any high-risk lesions, and an impressive 80% of patients preferred the NaviCam.
While doctors required training to operate the joysticks, the researchers are also developing AI software enabling autonomous navigation and abnormalities identification.
The researchers acknowledge that the magnetically controlled capsule lacks the capability to perform biopsies, which is possible with traditional endoscopy. However, they propose the NaviCam as a primary diagnostic tool for gastric issues, with biopsies performed conventionally only when necessary.
This approach has the potential to reduce hospital admissions, anesthesia requirements, and missed workdays, making MCCE a cost-effective outpatient evaluation method.
Published in the journal iGIE, this study marks a significant advancement in capsule endoscopy technology. The researchers plan to conduct further studies with a larger patient group to ensure the diagnostic accuracy of the NaviCam. By revolutionizing the evaluation of gastric symptoms, magnetically controlled capsule endoscopy could find applications in various healthcare settings, including emergency departments, urgent care facilities, and primary care clinics.
Source: George Washington University