This Colonoscopy Alternative Is As Easy As Swallowing A Pill


By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

Colonoscopy is an extremely long and uncomfortable process. The patients are advised by the doctors to follow a strict diet and control their fluid intake too. To prepare the body for undergoing colonoscopy, one may have to take oral laxatives or limit the intake of solid food. The actual process lasts around half an hour to an hour at the most. The patient is given medicines to calm the nerves and the doctor inserts a flexible tube that enters the colon. Images of the insides are visible to the doctor who looks for the problems. It is normal to feel cramps when the process is taking place. It might even cause a little pain or bleeding. This painful procedure is soon going to be replaced with a painless pill. Yes, you read that right. A big pill, sensors on the abdomen, and a portable belt – that is all that the new process requires.  

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This method was approved in Brazil a long time back but it is becoming increasingly popular. In Chicago, Loyola Medicine’s digestive health program is the first to use this technology. The pill given by the doctor has a camera inside it which takes several pictures once swallowed by the patient. This data is then transmitted to the data recorder which the patient wraps around the abdomen. It can even find its way to the small intestine, something that the older colonoscopy method did not permit.

The traditional method of prepping the body is still followed by the doctors. The data tracker belt is worn by the patient and the sensors are attached to the body. The capsule can be swallowed with water and the patient has to eat very light food until the next test is done after 8 hours. Once the pill reaches the bowel and takes pictures, the data is sent to the tracker. This pill is disposable and will leave the body naturally. This is mainly advised by doctors for checking the chances of colon cancer, reasons for gastrointestinal bleeding or any other disease related to the bowel. 

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The relatively new procedure does have a few fears associated with it. The first and foremost being the fear of the pill getting stuck inside the body. This can only happen if someone has tumors or a very narrow digestive tract. The doctor will anyway advise a CT scan before advising a capsule endoscopy. In case the patient is unsure if the pill has left the body, an X-ray can be done. 

The most common process is still colonoscopy but capsule endoscopy is beginning to gain popularity with the doctors and the patients.

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