Camera in a capsule captures images of digestive system


NASSAWADOX, VA. – August 2013 – Riverside Shore Gastroenterology and Daniel Ridout, M.D. are offering a new diagnostic tool to go where endoscopies and colonoscopies have a hard time reaching.

The PillCam is a capsule about the size of a large vitamin that captures images as it passes through a patient's digestive tract.  The capsule includes a light source and camera that transmits digital images to a small wireless device the patient carries with him or her.  It's particularly helpful in taking pictures of the small intestine, which physicians can not reach with colonoscopies and endoscopies.

The process is simple:  The night before the test, patients are asked to avoid eating after midnight and are permitted to have clear liquids in the morning.  The patient arrives at Ridout's office early in the morning and swallows the pill.  As nature takes its course, the camera inches down the gastrointestinal tract, taking several snapshots each second of the stomach, small bowel and colon.  About eight hours later, the patient returns the wireless device to Ridout's office.  The PillCam itself is single-use and doesn't need to be retrieved.  It passes through the digestive tract and is flushed down the toilet.  By the afternoon, the patient can resume his or her regular diet.  

The PillCam doesn't replace the need for colonoscopies and endoscopies.  But it is a helpful diagnostic tool when traditional imaging of the beginning and end of the digestive tract is inconclusive and the small intestine is suspected.  It can be used in cases of blood loss or for diseases that may be hard to diagnose, such as tumors or Crohn's disease, said Ridout.

"We have several areas that we can't see without the pill camera," Ridout explained.  "This is a great tool.  It's very safe.  It's not invasive, and a tremendous amount of information is gathered from it.  The images are just as good as traditional scopes, and we can pinpoint the location in the small bowel of any problems."

"Riverside's investment in PillCam technology comes from our goal to provide the latest technology for our patients who can benefit from it," said Dr. Susan McAndrews, Administrator and Vice President for Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.  "The camera takes pictures where traditional scopes can't reach, so it brings another hi-resolution, advanced diagnostic tool to our arsenal.  In addition, the service is provided right here on the Shore, and it is very convenient to simply swallow a capsule and then go about your normal activities – back to work, gardening, making dinner.  It's what our patients want."

The PillCam is covered by insurance.  Riverside Shore Gastroenterology is located at 9536 Hospital Avenue, Nassawadox, Va.  The phone number is (757) 414-8300.

Published: August 21, 2013