PhotoThe dog ate my homework, the dog chewed the furniture and the dog ate the camera. The first two are bad, the third is good -- the dog was supposed to eat the camera.

That's because a tiny capsule with four cameras inside is revolutionizing veterinary technology. It is called the ALICAM -- ambulatory light-based camera. 

Once swallowed, ALICAM captures high-resolution, 360-degree diagnostic images of the entire gastrointestinal tract and allows the veterinarian to diagnose GI disease quickly and accurately. It allows dogs to be imaged at home or in the clinic. There is no sedation or anesthesia required, and no need to restrict the pet’s activity.

"The camera can handle about 18 hours of video," explained Dr. Jeff Mayo. Mayo is one of the first vets in the country to use the technology.


Sparky, one of the ALICAM patients, was stricken with vomiting and treated with pills, X-rays and bloodwork but nothing showed up on the X-rays and after a while the pills didn’t work.

Doctors used the ALICAM and found that there was minor inflammation in Sparky’s gut. Normally, the option for Sparky would have been invasive -- they would have used use anesthesia and an endoscope, which is a tube with a camera that veterinarians push through the digestive tract.

The ALICAM is about the size of a large vitamin. The dog just goes about his business after he swallows the capsule. There are certain restrictions though, such as no MRI's during this time period and your dog can't take any trips via air. No food or treats for eight hours.

There is a messy part to this and when they say recover, well, you have to recover the camera through the dog’s bowel movements and the camera is not big so you have to examine everything that comes out. 

The capsule is generally passed within 3 and 30 hours, though it may be normal for the capsule to be retained longer.

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