SmartPill device measures patient’s digestive system vitals with less hassle & invasiveness compared to typical diagnostic procedures like endoscopy or gastric emptying studies.
Measuring 26 mm x 13 mm, about the size of a multi-vitamin, the SmartPill device should be easy enough for most patients to swallow. Once swallowed the device gets to work measuring statistics about the patients digestive system. The information collected is useful for measuring motility within the stomach, small bowel & colon along with temperature & pressure throughout the entire gut. A data monitoring device is worn by the patient which the SmartPill communicates with wirelessly. Data is collected for 4 – 5 days & then the patient returns to the doctors office to have the data downloaded & analyzed. Only the data monitoring device is recovered as the SmartPill itself is a single use device & passes through the digestive system along with other waste products.
While the SmartPill is not currently in widespread use, there are various locations within the United States where the SmartPill system may be available. In June 2011, the SmartPill was granted the CE mark by the European Medical Devices Directive, allowing it to be used within European markets. It is currently being used at the Princess Grace Hospital in London.
The main benefits of the SmartPill include the possibility of more accurate readings with more data available at different times of the day combined with the ease of using the device. The downsides include the fact that the SmartPill lacks a camera & the device manufacturer considers it a complimentary procedure to go along with an endoscopy. So while it may prevent people who have already had an endoscopy from undergoing yet another one, it may not prevent the need for an endoscopy for those who have never had one. Additionally cost & availability have to be taken into account.
It is still an interesting technology which could prove very beneficial down the road once it has widespread availability.
Sources: The Princess Grace Hosptial, SmartPill Website
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