Accessibility links

Breaking News

SCIENCE REPORT – September 5, 2001: Digestive System Camera - 2001-09-04

This is the VOA Special English Science Report.

The American government has approved a device that lets doctors see detailed images from inside the human body.

The Food and Drug Administration approved marketing of a device as small as a medicine pill. The patient swallows the device. It contains a very small video camera. It travels through the stomach, small intestine and large intestine. The camera sends color images to a special receiver worn by the patient. The body expels the camera with its wastes. Later, the doctor downloads the images from the receiver to see them on a computer.

The product is called the Given Diagnostic Imaging System. An Israeli company, Given Imaging Limited, developed the unusual device. The company has offices in the United States, Australia and Germany.

Currently, doctors use a method called endoscopy to provide images of the small intestines. An endoscope is a long thin tube with a small camera on the end. Doctors use endoscopy to identify growths, cancer and causes of bleeding. Doctors place the endoscope down a patient’s throat to look at the small intestine.

However, endoscopes are not able to reach all the way through the small intestine because the organ is six meters long. The F-D-A says the new device takes pictures of the entire small intestine. It helps doctors see areas in the small intestine that endoscopes cannot reach.

The Given Diagnostic Imaging System contains a camera, lights, a transmitter and power supply. The power supply has an expected life of eight hours. That generally is long enough to take pictures of the small intestine, but not the large intestine.

F-D-A officials say the device was tested in twenty patients who had signs of disorders of the small intestine. Officials say the device discovered intestinal problems in twelve patients. A traditional endoscope found problems in only seven of the patients. A combination of different tests identified fourteen problems in thirteen of the twenty patients.

The Food and Drug Administration says the Given Diagnostic Imaging System is safe and has no side effects. It approved the device for use along with other methods to examine the small intestines. The device was not tested in the large intestine.

This VOA Special English Science Report was written by George Grow.