TUESDAY, May 6, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A small capsule that holds a microscopic camera gives doctors with a better picture of the small bowel than standard X-rays.
So claims a Beth Israel Medical Center study that was presented May 6 at the American Roentgen Ray Society's annual meeting in San Diego.
The capsule can be swallowed by patients, and they don't have to drink barium before having the procedure, which is called a wireless capsule endoscopy.
In this study, 20 people had both the wireless capsule endoscopy and the small bowel series, which consists of a series of X-rays of the abdomen taken after a patient drinks several cups of barium.
The people in the study had a variety of symptoms. Some were anemic and some had blood in their stool.
The study found wireless capsule endoscopy was much better than the small bowel series in finding vascular malformations in the small bowel, as well as ulcerations or erosions in the bowel. All of them can cause bleeding.
There are downsides to the wireless capsule endoscopy. After the patient swallows the capsule, they must wear a data receiver for 8 hours. They are able to walk, work and do other non-strenuous activities.
It's also a time-consuming process for a gastroenterologist to view all the images from a wireless capsule endoscopy. And people who have a small bowel obstruction or narrowing of the small bowel shouldn't have wireless capsule endoscopy because the capsule could get lodged in the bowel.
Here's where you can learn more about wireless capsule endoscopy.