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New test easier for patients to swallow

Medicine@Yale, 2005 - June July


Physicians at the Yale Medical Group (YMG) are using a remarkable new procedure to diagnose digestive disorders. Instead of undergoing standard endoscopy, in which a long tube is threaded through the mouth into the esophagus, stomach and small intestine, some YMG patients can now swallow a pill about the size of a large vitamin capsule that contains a tiny video camera.

As the PillCam—manufactured by Given Imaging of Israel—makes an eight-hour journey through the upper digestive tract, the camera transmits full-color image data at a rate of two frames per second to an array of sensors in a belt worn by the patient. Doctors then upload the data from the belt to a workstation, where they can view the collected information either as still images or as a movie.

“The procedure is totally noninvasive, no radiation is involved, there is no discomfort and no need for sedation,” says Deborah D. Proctor, M.D., associate professor of medicine (digestive diseases). “Once the camera and belt are in place, patients can go about their normal day.”