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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 05:50 GMT 06:50 UK
Camera pill makes Welsh debut
Camera capsule
Patients can get on with life while the tiny camera travels down their body
A revolutionary camera capsule that allows doctors to diagnose bowel problems more effectively is being made available to patients in Wales for the first time.

Capsule endoscopy lets doctors see clear images from inside the small bowel via a tiny camera contained in a tablet no bigger than a vitamin pill.

It is a painless way of allowing doctors to diagnose problems in an area of the body which some consider difficult to explore.

The service, which is being offered to patients at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport, had previously only been available at a small number of hospitals in England.

The tiny futuristic camera capsule is pushing back the boundaries of medicine.

Stomach picture
Pictures of the stomach are among the 40,000 images

Consultant Nimal Balaratman said the camera allowed them to explore bowel problems in new depth.

"The whole area used to be a sort of black box for gastroentologists," he said.

"Although we could investigate it using X-rays, we could never visualise it like one can see a video."

The patient swallows the 320 capsule, which has a colour camera and miniscule lights even though it measures only 11mm by 26 mm.

Pictures are then beamed twice a second to a small receiver worn by the patient via radio waves.

About 40,000 images are taken in the six to eight hours the capsule takes to work its way through the digestive system.

During this time, patients are free to do whatever they like.

The pictures are then downloaded from the receiver to a computer and can then be analysed by a doctor.

The camera pill is expected to be a useful advance for medics treating people with colitis and Crohn's Disease.

Experts are working on ways in which the images from the system can be checked by computer.


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