Similar to the traditional endoscopy, capsule endoscopy allows for gazing deep into the digestive tract to find out any abnormalities in the small intestine or colon. It was developed in the 2000s by an Israeli company. The video capsule endoscopy involves a tiny capsule that is like a wireless digital camera. The person in need of the procedure ingests the capsule that travels the digestive tract capturing photos along the way.
Finding out anomalies alongside the digestive tract has always been a challenge, given the length of the small intestine. Before the 2000s, traditional endoscopy was the gold standard allowing the doctor to look inside the digestive organs. However, capsule endoscopy offers a much less invasive and convenient way of peering into the digestive tract.
Endoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that allows visualization of the insides of the bowel. It involves a long thin tube with a camera attached at one end. It is introduced into the body through the mouth or anus, and the camera films the inside of the digestive tract to find bowel abnormalities.
Endoscopy allows to inspect several organs: the stomach, the oesophagus, and the colon, and obtain exclusive images. However, the procedure is quite unpleasant for the patient as it requires anaesthesia and even an enema in the case of the colon. Besides, it has limitations too, as the test could not image the whole small intestine. A new, less unpleasant and much less invasive endoscopy procedure has therefore been developed: wireless capsule endoscopy. Let’s learn about it in detail.
The endoscopic tube could not reach the farthest end of the small intestine. Therefore it remains a challenge to visualize the insides of the small intestine completely. Then in 2000, an Israeli firm, Given Imaging, developed a wireless video capsule to explore the entire digestive tract. It was named pilcam and includes a tiny digital camera and a light source to illuminate its path – all enclosed in a capsule.
Patients need to ingest the capsule like normal pill, which travels down the digestive path taking photos as it progresses. These photos are then relayed to sensors attached to the body. Once inside, the capsule moves naturally with the contractions of digestive mucosa and travels the whole digestive system. And lastly, it is eliminated naturally with the stool.
Wireless capsule endoscopy has made it possible to visualize and explore the small intestine completely. This method also has another advantage – it does not require anaesthesia and therefore involves minimal discomfort. However, it has limitations too. As in the traditional endoscopy, video capsule endoscopy could not obtain biopsy samples from the inside. It’s only limited to visualizing the digestive area.