Pill-sized camera 'may help identify oesophagus cancer'

14 January 2013

A radical new pill-sized device has been developed by scientists that can be swallowed by patients, allowing greater insight into the gullet.

It is hoped that the device, which can capture microscopic images of the gut wall, will change the way screening is done for internal diseases.

If it proves to be successful, this would mark a break with current convention, as the camera can be used while the patient is still conscious. In particular, it is hoped that it can better screen people for Barrett's oesophagus.

This is a condition where abnormal cells develop in the inner lining of the lower part of the oesophagus, which can eventually lead to cancer, Macmillan has explained.

"The images produced have been some of the best we have seen of the oesophagus," commented Gary Tearne, a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School.

"We originally were concerned that we might miss a lot of data because of the small size of the capsule, but we were surprised to find that, once the pill has been swallowed, it is firmly 'grasped' by the oesophagus, allowing complete microscopic imaging of the entire wall."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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