FRIDAY, Oct. 19, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A small capsule that takes pictures of the inside of the small intestine can help doctors detect cases of Crohn's disease that have gone undiagnosed for up to 15 years, U.S. researches report.
Capsule endoscopy is a common method of evaluating bleeding in the stomach and intestines. Patients swallow a capsule that contains a camera that takes two images per second over eight hours as it travels through the digestive system.
A team at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, N.C., performed 198 video capsule endoscopies to evaluate unexplained gastrointestinal bleeding in patients.
Using the capsules, the researchers identified six cases of undiagnosed Crohn's disease in patients who'd had colonoscopies and other types of tests.
"With capsule endoscopy, we were able to diagnose cases that previously were difficult or impossible to diagnose," senior researcher Dr. Richard Bloomfield, a gastroenterologist, said in a prepared statement. "Some of the patients had been having transfusions for years because of anemia from unexplained bleeding."
The study was presented in Philadelphia this week at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.
In many cases of Crohn's disease, diagnosis can be made using colonoscopy. But in some patients, the disease affects a part of the intestine that can't be reached with colonoscopy.
Capsule endoscopy "allows us to see 20 feet of small intestine between the stomach and large intestine -- areas that we cannot reach with others tests. It's easy, painless and requires no sedation," Bloomfield said.
The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America has more about Crohn's disease.