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New technology tested at Stanford offers unique view inside small intestines

apsule's progress, recording two images per second. The capsule transmits images via radio frequencies to a Walkman-sized device worn on a belt along with a battery pack. Stanford's second patient to test the device, Leland McGraw, 77, swallowed the camera without a hitch. "I didn't feel it," he commented after it went down, adding that the receivers and belt were comfortable.

Two hours after swallowing the M2A capsule, patients can drink clear liquids. At four hours, they can eat solid food. Patients go about their daily business during the eight-hour procedure, careful not to dislodge the receivers or interfere with the battery pack and recorder. Eight hours after swallowing, the patient removes the belt and sensors, and simply forgets about the small plastic camera. "Patients don't have to retrieve the camera," said Van Dam. It simply completes its path through the digestive tract and is passed in stool.

The next day, the patient returns the belt, battery pack and recorder to the doctor, who downloads the video images into a computer. Software lets the doctor view the entire video of the camera's travels and save selected images. Snapping two images per second, the camera doesn't miss much. Doctors may be able to spot tumors, ulcers and bleeding. "More often than not, it's bleeding that we find," said Van Dam. Upon identifying the source, a surgeon can then remove the damaged portion of small intestine.

Although the capsule's components are based on existing technology, nobody has sent a camera through the digestive tract. "The fact that it worked is a big breakthrough," Van Dam said. "There's never been anything like this." Not only does it traverse the highly acidic stomach, but the camera successfully peers through the soupy contents of the small intestine and takes pictures as it tumbles along. "It doesn't matter if you're looking where you're going, or where you've been," said Van Dam, explaining that the tumbling motion
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Contact: Michelle Brandt
mbrandt@stanford.edu
650-723-0272
Stanford University Medical Center
6-Dec-2001


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