Swallowing a Swimming Pill! | Medical News and Health Information
Swallowing a Swimming Pill! -- Research Summary
BACKGROUND: At least 50% of the Western population develops a colorectal tumor by age of 70. In 10% of these individuals, the tumor progresses to malignancy. In adults, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer that causes death worldwide. According to recent published reports in the New England Journal of Medicine, colonoscopies have helped cut the death rate from colon cancer in half. (Source: Medscape.com, The New England Journal of medicine)
LOOK FOR POLYPS: A colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon). The doctor uses a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to look at the colon. A colonoscopy helps find ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths can be taken out. Colonoscopy can also be used as a screening test to check for cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum (polyps). ( Source: WebMD)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are now developing a "swimming capsule’’ that they hope will combine the best of both approaches: the control of the endoscope with the safety and ease of a pill. Doctor Kunal Jajoo believes that new technology could change the way colonoscopies are done. "This swimming capsule could possibly be able to steer a capsule through the body with a MRI," Dr. Kunal Jajoo, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an Associate Physician in the Department of Medicine, told Ivanhoe. In a paper published in the journal Biomedical Microdevices, they showed they could "swim’’ their capsule through a tank of water, powered by a conventional MRI machine.
The swimming capsule could also make colon cancer screenings more accurate. Today’s capsule endoscopes - tiny cameras encased in plastic - can’t be used for cancer screening because they take pictures at random intervals and so only catch cancers by chance or if the tumor is extremely large. The images can be seen only later, once the capsule has sent them wirelessly to a data recorder worn on the patient’s belt, so a second procedure is often needed to confirm a diagnosis. Capsule endoscopes are naturally excreted and painless. The goal of this new pill will be to find a way to deliver images in real time, allowing doctors to identify and explore areas of concern with one procedure. "Anything that can increase the likelihood of someone getting a screening colonoscopy can save lives and prevent colon cancer," Dr. Jajoo told Ivanhoe.
( Source: Interview with Ivanhoe Broadcast News, The Boston Globe)
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