UT Southwestern Medical Center is the first in Dallas to acquire the PillCam ESO technology. It allows doctors to quickly and easily assess the presence of oesophageal diseases such erosive oesophagitis, Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal varices.

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late last year, the PillCam is a smooth plastic capsule about the size of a large vitamin pill with video cameras on each end, equipped with a battery and internal light source.

After the patient lies down, the PillCam is swallowed and glides through the oesophagus, taking about 2,600 colour pictures (14 per second). The patient gradually sits up to aid its progression down the oesophagus, while the photographs are transmitted to a recording device and then viewed on a computer screen. The single-use capsule is passed naturally in less than 24 hours.

"The main use of the PillCam right now is to find pre-cancerous changes in the oesophaguses of patients who had had acid reflux for more than five years,” said Dr Charles Ulrich, associate professor of internal medicine. "It also can be used to find varices or dilated veins, and there are a number of other applications under investigation.”

Current traditional diagnosis and evaluation usually involves an endoscope, entering through the patient's mouth and throat into the oesophagus. The procedure requires sedation, up to an hour of recovery time, post-procedural transportation and a day off from work.

By contrast, the PillCam study takes 20 minutes, requires no sedation and provides immediate recovery, said Dr. Ulrich, who heads UT Southwestern's endoscopy services. PillCam is not recommended for people with swallowing disorders, pacemakers, or known or suspected gastrointestinal obstruction, said Dr. Ulrich. An endoscopy is still needed for tissue samples should the images suggest the presence of Barrett's oesophagus or other serious problems.

MEDICA.de; Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center