Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Science Technology

Pill Helps Doctors See Digestive Tract 44

Bush_man10 writes "RedNova is reporting about a pill loaded with technology similar to a digital camera that allows doctors to view more than 50,000 still images captured as it makes the trip through your small intestine. This is a much better alternative than the old fashioned camera on snaking tubes to check for intestinal troubles. All the images are collected wirelessly through a belt you wear while the pill completes it's fantastic voyage."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Pill Helps Doctors See Digestive Tract

Comments Filter:
  • ... THOSE webcams.
  • So glad it's wireless. A few years ago they tried this with USB and Firewire -- neither of those projects got funded past the first 10,000 trial runs! (In a manner of speaking...)
  • by paulydavis ( 91113 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2003 @11:01PM (#7615000)
    I would have the old preceedure. What if the camera missed something. With video and a doctor I think you would have a better chance. Though 50 thousand pics is alot. Im not a doctor but maybe 50,000 is enough to look for what ever there looking for. Still better safe than sorry.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I would prefer to not see the pill "complete" its "fantastic" voyage.


  • ...gerbils with cameras on their heads.

  • Really old news. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fritzed ( 634646 )
    I just have to say that this has to be the oldest story I've seen on slashdot. It has to have been at least 2 years since I read this in Popular Science. Back on subject, it is a nice design, two button batteries and a tiny camera. I do have to wonder, what type of quality the camera gives, I have yet to see any actual pictures from it. -> Fritz
    • I saw some pictures on the Australian ABC science program Quantum (from hazy memory) a few years ago - the pictures were of a quality comparable with an average endoscope (considering the age and analog nature of the "average" scope this is not too surprising).

      The effect of pre-set stills vs. live adjustable video was still a problem but it was believed to be useful in augmenting and complementing the current techniques.


  • by HaloZero ( 610207 ) <`protodeka' `at' `'> on Tuesday December 02, 2003 @11:36PM (#7615182) Homepage
    My Grandfather had this done.

    He had colon cancer. A rather massive, record-setting tumor (for our state) had lodged itself in his intestines. He took the pill, wore the belt, etc. It worked great, and the images from the camera weren't of espicially great quality, but they got the job done.

    The downside to this was that the cancer was at the very end of his intestinal tract, and it took the physicians so long to go through all of the images, before they got to the ones they needed and determined that he needed immediate, emergency surgery. This was three weeks after he passed the camera.

    Thankfully, they got to it in time, but still, just in time. It saved his life, in the end, I think, but it came a little too close for my (and his, I'm sure) comfort.

    By the way, he's doing fine, now. Healthier than I've ever seen him before.
    • Hrmmm, I had pondered this exact issue at the point that I first saw this technology.

      I think without developments in computer based image anomaly detection this will continue to be an enormous problem in terms of manpower and time; and even then there will be problems (computers suck at being intelligent).

      Glad your gramps came though - mine didn't. :(


    • Apologies for stating the obvious, but you bring up a very good point: Simply because the pictures were taken in a linear order, there's no need for them to be analyzed in the same order (especially when there's so many to be analyzed). Since it's a new technology, likely no one's written up a protocol/procedure/whatever on how to analyze the images. One would hope your grandfather's doctors will soon publish a paper or simply give feedback to the camera's manufacturer that users should do something akin
  • tapewyrm writes "I took the 50,000 images my doctor made of my intestinal tract (by hacking into the receiver belt - see the details here []) and made them into a panarama view! I think it's the largest digital image made of anyone's digestive tract. I also made it into a 3d shooter, and am looking to sell the rights to my guts. Any takers?" This one $#$@ load of pixels, but is there really a market for such an intimate portrait? We've already got goatse...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    do they re-use the camera??
    • The camera probe costs as much as a new BMW. But they put a wintergreen flavor on it.

      How about an active, powered probe - a suppository working its way up, getting spat out nice & clean? Could be much faster (hey, stop playing with that remote).
  • by VersedM ( 323660 ) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @12:35AM (#7615629)
    A different minimally invasive test that is likely to have a larger impact on colon cancer screening in developed countries is described in the latest New England Journal of Medicine []

    The technique is known as CT colonography and consists of aquiring several hundred CT slices of the abdomen/pelvis then using software to reconstruct the lumen of the colon and fly through it virtual-reality style looking for cancer. The linked study reports that CT colonography in experienced hands is as good as the "gold standard" of colonoscopy, a finding that (if validated in other studies) could mean that hundreds of thousands of people might be able to avoid the scope and get a less invasive CT scan to screen for cancer.
  • So many proctologists prefer the old fashioned way. And don't forget, that's the same camera they shove down peoples' throats to do upper endoscopies.
  • by TrebleJunkie ( 208060 ) <ezahurak AT atlanticbb DOT net> on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @12:55AM (#7615727) Homepage Journal
    Yes, you probably already guessed that "M2A" *does* mean "Mouth-to-ass".


    [Not that this capsule is new. One local health system had this device over a year ago.]
  • Yea Technology! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bowling Moses ( 591924 ) on Wednesday December 03, 2003 @01:14AM (#7615825) Journal
    This is so much less nasty than the old way--a number of years ago I had to get my upper GI (mouth to small intestine) checked out and had a more old-fashioned proceedure done. That is, the camera was on a cable about as big around as standard coax cable. The cable was coated with novocane and shoved up my left nostril and down my throat, through the stomach and into the small intestine, about 25 feet worth in all. It was an especially unpleasant experience, but at least the cable didn't have to go the other way...

    It also involved choking down about two quarts of a barium sulfate "milkshake," which was extremely dense. After the proceedure was over I was initially confused why the doctor asked how long it would take for me to get home from the hospital. It was much clearer to me why when I got home and made a dash for the can. Extremely dense, that milkshake was!
  • I saw this on TV in Australia at least 6 months ago, but probably a lot longer.
    Old new is good news.
  • I'd be interested to get one of these for myself. Though I'd hate to have to get it back afterwards...
  • dude! here's a screenshot:

    [insert goats.ex link here]

    (I just can't do it; I just can't bring myself to put up the link :P)
  • Radiation Helps Doctors See Through the Body

    Technology/IT []|Posted by michael on 09:45 PM December 3rd, 2003
    from the radiation dept.

    Clinton man10 [] writes "RedNova [] is reporting [] about a new kind of radiation that can pass through some parts of the body, like skin and organs, and be absorbed by other harder structures. Using a sofisticated receiver on the other end, the doctor can take a picture of your inner body. Doctors are using it to detect broken bones. This is a much better alternative than the old
  • Another poster [] brought up the issue that this technique generates enormous amounts of images that need to be examined by the doctor. To me this seems to be an ideal use for a pattern recognition utility. While it would be too much to ask software to diagnose a tumor on its own, something that flagged images where an anomoly of the correct color appears in the same place for several frames (so as to distinguish for a piece of partially digested food) might be useful in helping a specialist sieve through th
  • The article states that the device uses "technology similar to a digital camera." To me this implies a visible spectrum sensor. I was wondering if tumor tissue might stand out with more contrast in other regions of the spectrum, such as ultraviolet (I assume the body would generate too much heat to make infrared useful). If so, added sensors might be of value. Unlikely that those tissues would behave that much differently in another region of the spectrum, but it's still something I'm curious about (jus
  • This is really old news. The current version which I saw recently on TV can be controlled by the doctor and provide real-time video. That way if it goes by something that the doctor would like to take a closer look at, he can back it up. It does this with two small electrodes, one on the front and one on the back. When it wants to move backwards, it produces a small eletrical current on the front electrode causing the muscles in that are to contract and thus pushing the pill backwards! Wonder what that feel
  • I bet they were really crappy pictures.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.