Imagine a pill equipped with a camera small enough to take pictures inside the body. Well, that's now available.
In fact, the Gastroenterology Department at Rush Hospital is now using a pill, about the size of a regular capsule, which takes pictures inside the small intestine.
Here's how it works:
The patient puts on a belt-like vest and wears wires hooked up to the chest area. He then wears it out, while continuing with his daily routine. After eight hours the patient takes off the vest, which has recorded images sent back from the pill inside the small intestine.
Doctors are then able to look at those images on a monitor. It is this type of technology that healthcare officials say can truly help save lives.
"So, now we can diagnose with greater occurrence a tumor, the presence of an ulcer, the presence of some bleeding lesion, inflammation and much more," says Dr. Paul Varela.
Here's the catch, the patient can't eat at least 12 hours before taking the pill and must wait two hours after taking it before drinking anything and four hours after taking it before eating a light meal such as broth.
After leaving the intestine, the camera stops taking pictures and the pill eventually passes through the body as part of regular digestion. Although somewhat of an inconvenience, doctors say it's worth it.
"So, you see this new took is really the best way to study the small bowel now and I think at this time nothing can really compare to this," says Dr. Varela.