After years of investment and development, wireless devices contained in swallowable capsules are now reaching the market.
Companies such as SmartPill based in Buffalo, New York and Israel-based Given Imaging (PillCam) market capsules the size of vitamin tablets that contain sensors or tiny cameras that collect information as they travel through the gastrointestinal tract before being excreted from the body a day or two later.
These new electronic inventions transmit information such as acidity, pressure and temperature levels or images of the esophagus and intestine to your doctor’s computer for analysis.
Doctors often use invasive methods such as catheters, endoscopic instruments or radioisotopes for collecting information about the digestive tract. So device companies have been developing easier, less intrusive ways, to gather information.
Digestive diseases and disorders can include symptoms such as acid reflux, bloating, heartburn, abdominal pain, constipation, difficulty swallowing or loss of appetite.
“One of the main challenges is determining just what is happening in the stomach and intestines.” says Dr. Anish A. Sheth, Director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Program at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Doctors can inspect the colon and peer into the stomach using endoscopic instruments. But some areas cannot be easily viewed, and finding out how muscles are working can be difficult.
Electronic pills are being used to measure muscle contraction, ease of passage and other factors to reveal information unavailable in the past.