PhotoThe Food and Drug Administration has approved a camera-in-a-pill that can be swallowed by patients who have encountered problems with traditional colonoscopies.

The PillCam Colon is an ingestible camera that takes high-speed photographs as it works its way through the digestive system and helps doctors spot polyps and other early signs of colon cancer.

The FDA's approval covers its use in patients who have previously not been able to complete the colonoscopy process.

“PillCam Colon will improve patient care by offering a new and effective colon imaging option for patients who have experienced an incomplete colonoscopy.  Among the limited alternatives available after incomplete colonoscopy, PillCam Colon gives us a minimally invasive, radiation-free option that provides endoscopic images of the same basic type that have made colonoscopy so useful,” said Douglas Rex, M.D., Indiana University School of Medicine and Director of Endoscopy, Indiana University Hospital.

Incomplete colonoscopies

Incomplete colonoscopies occur in approximately 750,000 patients in the nited States per year. Patients with incomplete colonoscopies often incur additional costs along with the inconvenience and risk of other procedures to complete the colorectal examination.

The incidence of incomplete colonoscopies is higher in women due to the increase in past pelvic surgeries and the differing anatomy of women that includes particularly acute rectosigmoid angles in thin women.  Patients with a redundant or long colon, history of abdominal surgery or advanced diverticular disease are also at a higher risk for experiencing an incomplete colonoscopy. 

"We have made tremendous strides in increasing the number of people who are getting screened for colon cancer, starting at age 50 for the average risk individual," said said Eric Hargis, CEO, Colon Cancer Alliance. "Colonoscopy is the most comprehensive option, but for up to 10% of individuals, achieving a complete colonoscopy may not be possible. For those individuals, PillCam Colon capsule endoscopy could be an effective option."

The device is made by an Israeli company, Given Imaging Ltd., and is available in more than eighty markets including Japan, Europe, Latin America, Canada, Australia and parts of Asia and Africa. 

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