New Pill-Sized 3D Endoscope Searches for Cancer in Esophagus
January 14, 2013 5:37 PM
Patients do not need to use anesthesia for the process, and it only takes a few minutes to complete
Doctors may soon be able to check for abnormalities in the
esophagus’s of patients
without long or painful methods.
Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, which were led by pathologist Gary Tearney, have found a way to check for a condition called Barrett's esophagus through the use of a pill-sized device that provides 3D photographs of the area.
Barrett's esophagus is caused by the reflux of stomach acid making its way back into the esophagus too frequently. This leads to abnormal changes in the tissue of the esophagus, and could eventually lead to cancer.
But Barrett's esophagus is tricky because patients tend to not have any symptoms. Also, the current procedure for checking for Barrett's esophagus is expensive, time-consuming and painful. Hence, people tend to not have it checked and can develop cancer in the esophagus.
But now, Tearney and his team have found an inexpensive and non-invasive technique that will allow more patients to be checked, whether they're experiencing symptoms or not.
The new technique employs a transparent,
that is attached to a long piano wire, which is connected to a computer. A patient simply swallows the pill, and with optical frequency domain imaging (OFDI), which uses infrared light to take images, multiple images are taken inside the esophagus.
Two beams of light are used to create the images. One beam is sent into a detector as a reference, and the other is sent through a tether, where it is directed into the tissue of the esophagus. The pill spins inside the esophagus to focus the light beams on different areas. The tissue is measured and sent back to the detector for comparison with the reference beam, and differences between the two beams construct 3D images on the computer.
Patients do not need to use anesthesia for the process, and it only takes a few minutes to complete.
“We also can potentially see other esophageal diseases,” said Tearney. “Moving toward the future, we’re going to be building pills that can diagnose diseases of the stomach, diseases of the small intestine and even diseases of the colon.”
For a closer look, check out this video:
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