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Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK
Camera you can swallow
Computers are used to view results
The camera takes two pictures a second
Researchers at a Birmingham hospital have designed a groundbreaking new camera which is small enough to swallow.

Doctors at Selly Oak Hospital hope it will do away with some of the more invasive and traumatic ways of conducting internal examinations.

The pill, measuring 27mm by 11mm, can take up to 50,000 pictures of the gut, beaming the information to a pack worn on the patient's side.

If used widely, it will spare thousands of often elderly patients the hours of disruption and discomfort associated with conventional examinations.


It's as safe as swallowing a vitamin tablet, it's small, easy to swallow and painless

Tarik Ishmail consultant surgeon
The patient wears a belt around their middle which picks up pictures transmitted by the camera at the rate of two per second.

The device continues to broadcast during its journey through the body, which can take between six and eight hours.

Tarik Ishmail, a consultant surgeon at Selly Oak Hospital, confirmed initial results were encouraging:

He said: "Many patients have had cameras put into their stomachs and large bowel and we haven't found causes for their symptoms or bleeding.

The pill is swallowed like a normal tablet
The pill gives an easier chance of diagnosis

"This test has been very helpful in the early pilot work we have done.

"It's as safe as swallowing a vitamin tablet. It's small, easy to swallow and painless.

"Up until now people have had to have an endoscopy and they are quite difficult for many patients. .

"You have to have an empty stomach, be sedated and it is unpleasant having to swallow a tube six to seven feet long."

If the tens of thousands of pounds needed for development are secured it is hoped the pill will move beyond diagnosis be able to administer treatments as well.


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See also:

23 Jan 02 | Health
30 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
18 Oct 01 | Health
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