STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford researchers are the first in the Bay Area to test an ingestible, pill-sized camera that detects bleeding in the small intestine. The device, developed by Israel-based Given Imaging, Ltd., provides doctors their only glimpse inside this hard-to-view organ without invasive surgery.
Jacques Van Dam, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine, recently used the miniature camera on his second medical center patient. The first two patients are part of a multi-center clinical trial of the device-called the M2A capsule-in people who need regular transfusions due to bleeding. In a separate trial, Stanford researchers will test the device in anemic patients who do not yet need transfusions.
Doctors suspect internal bleeding when patients have consistently low levels of hemoglobin (the blood-born protein that carries oxygen). "Usually the bleeding is in the stomach or colon," Van Dam said. "But sometimes we can't find the source." Often these patients must get regular transfusions to make up for the lost blood.
To detect bleeding in the throat, stomach or colon, doctors use an endoscope-a camera on the end of a long, flexible rod. But endoscopy may fail to show the source of bleeding, leading doctors to suspect the small intestine. With no device for viewing inside the deepest portions of the small intestine, however, exploratory surgery is the only way to know for sure-no small feat, given the 20-foot length of the organ. "[The M2A capsule] lets us see what's happening in the small intestine for the first time," Van Dam said.
In preparation for the procedure, a patient fasts for eight hours to prevent food in the small intestine from obscuring trouble spots. The patient then swallows the vitamin-sized capsule, which encases four tiny flashing lights, a color camera, a battery and an antenna. The patient has a receiver taped to his or her abdomen to track the c
Contact: Michelle Brandt
Stanford University Medical Center