Print 6 comment(s) - last by Spookster.. on Jan 15 at 8:09 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, pill-sized endoscope 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:

Source: Nature

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Not true
By Spookster on 1/15/2013 12:44:50 AM , Rating: 2
Also, the current procedure for checking for Barrett's esophagus is expensive, time-consuming and painful.

This is not true. I just had an upper endoscopy done a few months ago checking for Barretts Esophagus. Depending upon your insurance it's a few hundred out of pocket. There's no pain during or after. Matter of fact they sedate you while they put the camera down your throat so you're not even conscious during the procedure. You are only at the hospital for a couple of hours and that's only because you have to wait for the sedation to wear off.

RE: Not true
By Etsp on 1/15/2013 9:40:09 AM , Rating: 3
Just because you didn't pay much out of pocket does not mean that the procedure is inexpensive.

I had my appendix taken out, and my out of pocket expenses were about $200.

What the hospital billed the insurance company? $20,000+.

Perhaps this new procedure won't save you money directly, but it will lower the cost overall for other payers (Medicare, Insurance companies, etc.)

RE: Not true
By Spookster on 1/15/2013 8:09:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah you go find anywhere in the healthcare industry where they develop newer technology/procedures that is going to be less expensive than what they are charging for the older tech. Good luck with that.

Also this new procedure is not very different from the old so cost of the procedure itself is going to be at least as much as the old. The current procedure employs a camera on the end of a small tube they slide down your throat and pull back out. All this new procedure is doing is changing the size of the camera and attaching it to a wire instead of a tube. They still have to slide it down your throat and pull it back out. They will still charge insurance for the same doctor and hospital visit fees. I don't care what this article claims they are still going to sedate you because they don't want you freaking out while this thing is in your throat.

Given Imaging
By sheh on 1/15/2013 12:01:24 PM , Rating: 3
Sounds similar to the Given Imaging stuff.

It's only on a wire...
By BugblatterIII on 1/14/2013 6:53:50 PM , Rating: 2 they can get it back!

A couple of things
By ppardee on 1/14/2013 7:03:18 PM , Rating: 2
Come on, Tiffany, you let all opportunities for a childish headline pass you by!

This is very cool, but I'm not sure about the "without sedation" part of it. Swallowing a pill the diameter of a penny and twice as long might not be so bad, but having a tether attached to it might be... And I am unaccustomed to having things yanked out of my throat... might not do so well with that.

And let me take this moment to call for a rectal version of this that goes the right way through the system, if you know what I mean...

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