Endoscopy is a procedure that allows medical professionals to look inside your body. Instruments called endoscopes have cameras attached to long, thin tubes – which are inserted into various orifices of the body to examine nearby organs.
Although traditional methods of endoscopy are used in diagnosing problems in all areas of the body, they are most commonly associated with diagnosing problems of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Traditional endoscopy procedures are performed on various components of the GI tract to diagnose conditions like ulcers, Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), polyps, tumors or to find the source of intestinal bleeding. While the traditional methods are beneficial in diagnosing problems of most portions of the GI tract, they are not able to access the small intestine, where some types of serious intestinal conditions, like Crohn’s disease, can begin. Further, some sources of intestinal bleeding are found in the lower intestine and would not be visible through traditional methods of endoscopy.
In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a highly effective, minimally invasive method of endoscopy that allows physicians to see the lower portions of the GI tract that traditional methods did not. The new method, known as wireless capsule endoscopy, is a camera that is encapsulated in a pill-like covering, which the patient swallows like they would normal medication. As the capsule moves through the GI tract, the tiny camera takes images of the intestinal walls and organs at the rate of 2-4 images per second for up to eight hours. The images are transferred to a device attached to the patient via a belt worn around the waist. Physicians can then review the images and pinpoint any possible problems. Because the capsule passes through the entire GI tract, it offers physicians a glimpse of all three portions of the small intestine, which traditional methods of endoscopy could not do. After about three days, the pill camera will pass through the body during the natural excrement process.
While the wireless capsule endoscopy is a revolutionary approach to endoscopy that medical professionals at La Peer Health Group offers their patients, it is not suitable for everyone. To discuss which method of endoscopy is right for you, schedule a consultation with one of our health care professionals today.