Capsule Endoscopy Could Identify Presence Of "occult" Blood At Very Low Levels
Remote-controlled capsule endoscope safely examines the stomach
The data is automatically broadcast to an external monitoring device for detection of early stage stomach cancer by one's physician. Details of the invention and initial trials are described in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology. Hongying Liu, Panpan Qiao, Xueli Wu, Lan Zhu, Xitian Pi and Xiaolin Zheng of Chongqing University, in China, have adapted capsule endoscopy to allow them to detect tiny quantities of blood that might be present in a patient with the earliest signs of stomach cancer. The capsule is encased in non-toxic and acid-safe polycarbonate. It carries inside it a detector, power supply, and wireless transmitter. The device has a detection limit of 6 micrograms per liter of fluid and laboratory tests demonstrate its simplicity as well as its reliability. Once its task is complete the tiny pill-like device would be disposed of through the usual route without harm to the stomach or intestine. This approach thus avoids the uncomfortable and risk retrieval of such a device via the oral route. Occult bleeding is usually first identified in patients who have given a stool sample in which blood is found. However, it is important to identify the source of such blood, whether intestine or stomach. The detection of occult blood is indicated as one method of early diagnosis and so reduction of mortality from gastrointestinal cancers given the availability and adoption of suitable treatment by the patient.
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The study appears in the January issue of GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE). Data from prospective studies indicate that gastric cancer screening programs may have a positive impact on mortality associated with the disease. Upper endoscopy is the reference method for the detection of gastric mucosal alterations (changes in the lining of the stomach) and therefore might be the most appropriate screening tool . Unfortunately, some view endoscopy as uncomfortable, and worry about low patient compliance. Capsule endoscopy might offer a more "patient-friendly" alternative. However, conventional capsule endoscopies have shown that visualization of the stomach is highly variable. A conventional capsule endoscope examines the small intestine using a pill-sized video capsule which has its own lens and light source. The camera takes 50,000-60,000 digital images during the procedure.
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