This Swallowable Camera Can Take the Place of Traditional Colonoscopies

The Pillcam

More than 2,000 patients in Scotland have swallowed a tiny pill-shaped camera in order to be screened for bowel cancer. The medical program replaced traditional colonoscopies and has reduced waiting times and allowed for faster diagnosis.

The technical name for the process is a colon capsule endoscopy (CCE), but Medtronic’s device is branded the Pillcam. Reported by Metro UK and spotted by DPReview, the Pillcam was deployed during the pandemic as the number of traditional colonoscopies that could be carried out were reduced. Clinics have been able to instead use the Pillcam to see and treat more patients and has been proven effective.

How The PillCam Works

After a patient swallows the Pillcam, which weighs just three grams, is 26.2mm long, and 11.4mm in diameter, it will pass through the patient’s digestive system and take photographs as it does so. The images are sent to a recording device that the patient wears on a belt and are downloaded and reviewed at the hospital. While on its way through a patient’s bowels, the single-use Pillcam can take up to 50,000 pictures before being “flushed away.”

More than 2,000 patients have used the Pillcam successfully in Scotland.

“We are delighted to reach this milestone of 2,000 patients receiving this exciting, fast and effective diagnostic procedure,” Professor Angus Watson, consultant colorectal surgeon and clinical lead for colon capsule endoscopy, says. “Traditionally, patients undergoing this test would require sedation and could be quite anxious coming in for their appointment. “This test is painless and although they will still need to undergo the same cleansing preparation beforehand, all they are doing is swallowing the capsule and letting the camera do the work.

The Pillcam

“This advancement in cancer diagnosis is excellent news for the people of Scotland and allows us to not only put patients first, but supports our plans as we continue to recover from the impact of the pandemic.”

Could Help Treat Numerous Conditions

While the Pillcam was mainly used to help screen for bowel cancer in Scotland, Medtronic markets the device as able to help across a variety of bowel-related illnesses. The system allows for direct visualization of the small bowel, supporting greater confidence when monitoring lesions that may be related to Crohn’s disease, obscure bleeding, or iron deficiency anemia, Medtronic claims. The system features advanced optics and imaging designed to deliver exceptional images of the mucosa.

The latest iteration of the product can capture between two and six frames per second as it travels through the bowel, which provides a great deal of information to doctors in a way that is far less invasive to a patient.