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Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Patients try 'camera' pill
camera pill
The new pill is only the size of a jelly bean sweet
Doctors are using tiny cameras swallowed as a pill to detect stomach illness in patients.

The capsule endoscopes - about the size of a jelly bean - transmit information to a belt which stores the images.

Each unit, which is simply passed out of the body as waste after it has taken the pictures, costs 300.

The cameras are in use at the endoscopy ward at Bristol's Southmead Hospital,

'New technology'

Transmitters contained in the pills send thousands of colour images to the special unit worn on the belt.

At the climax of the pill's journey in the colon, the high-resolution images are downloaded to the computer where they can be analysed.

Dr Steve Hughes
Dr Hughes says the technology is a "step forward"
The cost of each pill is said by hospital staff to be comparable with that of an x-ray.

Consultant Dr Steve Hughes said: "Using the endoscope was frustrating because we couldn't always get down as far we needed.

"When we saw this new technology, I thought we must have it in order to complement the work that we're doing here already.

"It has been a major step forward and is already paying dividends for our patients."

As well as gastrointestinal bleeding, the camera can be used to diagnose small intestine problems in children, Crohn's disease and stomach and colon cancer.


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