A colonoscopy can be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and inconvenient. They impact what the patient can eat the day prior to the procedure and can also have complications with regards to the sedatives and anesthetics involved.
Colonoscopies can also save lives.
A colonoscopy involves a tube being inserted into the colon which allows doctors to, both, diagnose and treat any polyps they may see along the way. Well, science has made a step forward in this area that might save patients a great deal of embarrassment. Enter the smart pill- a pill with a camera that you swallow and captures your whole digestive tract, measuring gas levels along the way.
While it is a great step forward, this pill could well replace the diagnostic side of the traditional colonoscopy, at this stage it is unable to remove polyps.
The promising technology is still being trialed, and funds are being raised.
Phase one has shown the pill is safe to the patients in that all pills were excreted. It also showed that the pill technology can be synced with smart phones.
Professor Kalantar Zadeh of RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) has said there are many things that need to be established before this could hit the market, including whether the pill is safe to be flushed down the toilet.
Zadeh has said they need $40 million to continue with phase two and phase three trials to prove safety and efficiency – but so far they have no funders:
If we had investors by tonight we could start trials in six months. Gas sensing is just the beginning.
No doubt many people are put off having a colonoscopy because of the intrusiveness of the procedure, and breakthroughs like these could genuinely save lives.
If we are able to scan the inner workings of the stomach and bowels without a ‘pain in the ass’ procedure, surely that is a good thing.
Thank you once again science!
Watch this report about a similar breakthrough:
Featured image via YouTube.