Small Technology Makes Big Impact

Hand holding PillCam SB 2

A pill is a common form of medication–as common as taking daily vitamins but the power of technology has led to advances in medicine that are now used to evaluate and explore symptoms using this very form. One type of innovative “pill” technology available at Faith Regional is called Capsule Endoscopy.

Capsule endoscopy, better known as the “Pill Cam,” is a technology that uses a swallowed video capsule to take videos of the inside of the esophagus, stomach and small intestine. The capsule contains one or two video chips (cameras), a light bulb, a battery and a radio transmitter.

Capsule endoscopy helps doctors see inside your small intestine—an area that isn’t easily reached with conventional endoscopy and imaging tests. “This is an ideal procedure to evaluate the small intestine for any signs of Crohn’s disease and evaluate symptoms like chronic abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea and anemia of unclear nature,” says Faith Regional Physician Services gastroenterologist, Fadi Rzouq, M.D.

How It Works

Capsule endoscopy can be used by adults and by children who can swallow the capsule and the procedure is usually started in a doctor’s office.

“The patient comes to the clinic in the morning and swallows the pill. A belt, which is the size of a cell phone, is put on the waist of the patient and they are sent on their way to live a normal life for the remainder of the day.”

As the capsule travels through the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine, it rapidly takes videos which are sent by the transmitter to the small receiver on the belt. The capsule is leaves your body when you have a bowel movement within a day or two into the toilet and flushed away and does not need to be retrieved.  The following day, the patient returns the belt to the clinic, and 12 hours of video footage is downloaded and reviewed. During the review process, ulcers, masses, bleeding and inflammation are examined.

For those who have had surgery in their intestines, they must first successfully pass what is called a patency or “fake,” capsule to be sure that the pill can navigate through their system properly. An X-Ray is taken 30 hours after the patency pill is swallowed to see if the capsule passed through the colon.

“There is no risk to the patient if the patency cannot make it through someone’s system as it is simply a potassium pill the body will absorb.”  

Following the examination of the camera footage, Dr. Rzouq will diagnose and determine the best plan to treat issues that are uncovered.