Out of all preventative medial procedures, none are quite as dreaded as a colonoscopy. However, a new ingestible camera could not only replace the procedure altogether, it could make getting screened for colon cancer a much more comfortable experience.
Recently cleared by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), the “PillCam” is a swallowable device equipped with two mini cameras that take high-speed photos as it winds its way through the digestive system over the course of ten hours. Images are then transmitted to a recording device worn around the patients waist, where doctors can review the photos for any polyps or early signs of colon cancer.
Made by Given Imaging, the PillCam is intended for the estimated 750,000 U.S. patients who are unable to undergo the traditional colonoscopy, due to anatomy, previous surgeries or colon diseases. Eventually, the device could be an option for those who would rather not endure the original procedure, which involves probing the intestine with a thin, flexible, four-foot long tube that has a camera on the end.
Patients will neither get shafted in the rear end nor their wallets. The PillCam costs $500 — significantly cheaper than the a $4,000 going rate for a colonoscopy.
But MorningStar analyst Debbie Wang told the AP that Given Imaging is cleverly marketing the device as another instrument in a gastrointestinal specialist’s tool box, rather as direct competitor to current procedures.
“Given’s management understands that the traditional colonoscopy is the gastroenterologist’s bread and butter right now,” Wang said. “So they didn’t want to do anything that would position this as a substitute.”
No word yet on when the PillCam might start popping up at doctors’ offices, but it’s been previously approved in Europe and in Latin America as well as 80 countries around the world. The truly brave can see the PillCam in action and take a journey into the colon with the following video.
Credit: Given Imaging