From the annual Digestive Disease Week, Chicago:
Tired of traditional colonoscopy? How’s this for a new view: Use a capsule that goes in the “back end” to take pictures of the colon. A team of Japanese researchers has developed a self-propelling capsule endoscope that is designed to start in the rectum and then swim up the colon, taking pictures as it goes.
Dr. Takanori Kuramoto of Osaka Medical College in Osaka, Japan, and his team developed the capsule, tested it in a dog model, and presented results of the first human test at the annual Digestive Disease Week in Chicago.
The capsule camera moved smoothly through the colon, showed clear images, and was easily and safely removed from the anus, according to a press release. The (lucky?) human volunteer was awake during the process, which involved injecting 500 ml of water and inserting the 12 mm x 65 mm-capsule into the anus. The capsule was “driven” through the colon by doctors using remote control—the capsule features a small magnetic fin– and it was propelled using a magnetic field.
Sounds like something out of science fiction, but this is real science, and it is probably headed in your direction (or the reverse direction).
“I think capsule endoscopy is going to be big in the future,” said Dr. Jerome Waye of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, who moderated the press conference at which the study was presented. In general, capsule technology is becoming more accepted, Dr. Waye said. Capsules that deliver medications, as well as those that take pictures, will one day become commonplace, he said.
Stay tuned. Remember when those communicators on Star Trek looked futuristic? I bet you have one in your purse or pocket right now.
(on Twitter @hsplete)