Pill-sized camera now used by hospital in place of colonoscopy
By Mary Dennehy
THE country’s first Pillcam has been successfully taken by patients at Tallaght Hospital, an innovative medical development which will reduce the need for invasive procedures.
The Pillcam is a small capsule fitted with two cameras which, swallowed by a patient, records images on its 20-hour journey through the body’s intestines.
Painless, non-invasive and requiring no sedation, the Pillcam is a simpler alternative to a colonoscopy – which is currently being used to diagnose patients, when it should be used to treat, i.e. remove tissue or polyps.
The Pillcam introduces a new way to diagnose a gastrointestinal condition before a colonoscopy is required for those who may need further treatment.
Fitted with two cameras, a battery and a light, the Pillcam feeds high definition images to a monitor worn by patients on the outside of the body – with the footage then examined by a hospital gastroenterologist.
The gastroenterology department at Tallaght Hospital is renowned for its innovative and exciting technologies, with the hospital using Pillcam as a diagnosis tool in a number of pilot projects since 2012.
Prof Deirdre McNamara, consultant gastroenterologist at Tallaght Hospital and Associate Professor of Gastroenterology at Trinity, told The Echo: “In patients at moderate risk of colorectal cancer, it may avoid unnecessary invasive procedures and it may also be utilised in the setting of failed or incomplete colonoscopy, due to patient intolerance, or technical difficulties.
“At the moment I carry out around ten colonoscopies a day, and five or more of these tests are normal.
“The Pillcam will save patients who do not need further treatment from having to go through an invasive colonoscopy – and will also free up the colonoscopy department for those who do require further treatment.”
She added: “Pillcam is live now in the hospital and we hope that people who are afraid of a colonoscopy will be more comfortable using this diagnostic method.
“We believe that Pillcam will increase our screening capability and play an important preventative role.”
Costing €500, around the same as a colonoscopy, Pillcam is expected to be rolled out nationally – with support from the HSE.