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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Pill camera reveals the inside story
camera pill
The new pill is only the size of a jelly bean sweet
A patient has swallowed a pill-sized camera to give doctors a better picture of her insides.

Joanne Rossall, 26, said she had not felt a thing.

The camera, which is just slightly bigger than a normal pill, should help doctors diagnose the stomach problems she has been suffering for over two years.

Specialists at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, where she is being treated, say the camera will give them detailed images of her digestive system.

The camera, which costs 300, is 26 by 11mm transmits over 50,000 colour images to a special unit worn on a belt during its journey through the body, which takes around eight hours.

Joanne Rossall hopes to get the results from the tests soon (c William Lack)
Joanne Rossall hopes to get the results from the tests soon
It then passes through the body as waste after it has taken the pictures.

Doctors are then able to watch the images on video.

Results

Ms Rossall, a staff nurse at Manchester's St Mary's Hospital, told BBC News Online: "I was quite worried that it wouldn't go down.

"I generally get stomach pains, but this was nothing worse than normal."

She was able to carry on as normal while the camera passed through her.

Ms Rossall went for a walk, had lunch and read magazines while she waited.

She added: "I'm hoping to get the results through next week."


It provides a far better picture of the small bowel

Dr Mark McAlindon, Royal Hallamshire Hospital
Doctors normally use endoscopes to look inside the body or barium x-rays to diagnose gastrointestinal conditions.

But the pill camera can be used to diagnosed a range of conditions of small intestine, such as Crohns Disease, Celiac disease and tumours.

Major advance

Dr Mark McAlindon, the doctor who carried out the procedure, said: "This a major advance. It provides a far better picture of the small bowel.

"We've never had a way of seeing it like this before. Now we can see all five plus metres of it."

The camera will be used to examine patients who have already had stomach and large bowel examinations which have come back clear, and who doctors think may have a small bowel problem.

The computer equipment and 10 pills - which are only used once and pass naturally from the patient - cost 30,000 and were paid for by the Westfield Health Scheme in Sheffield.

See also:

24 Jul 02 | England
23 May 02 | England
24 May 00 | Science/Nature
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