Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pop a camera to help the doc!

How about swallowing a camera for better diagnosis? No matter how ridiculous it sounds, that is what you may need to do if you are suffering from gastric problems and want to avoid the painful procedure of endoscopy.
In the last few years, scientists had come up with small cameras that human beings can swallow and help doctors diagnose problems with the internal organs. These cameras contain small transmitters which send images of our internal organs to a receiver located outside (usually in a belt) which the doctors can see.

However, the problem doctors were facing was in getting a good image of the esophagus and the stomach. The reason being the fact that camera takes about three or four seconds to make its way through the esophagus and manages to click two to four images per second. Once it is inside the stomach, its weight (around 5 gm) causes it to drop very quickly to the lower wall of the stomach. In other words, it is too fast to deliver usable images.
However, scientists have managed to find a way to control the free fall and using their method the camera can be retained in the esophagus for up to 10 minutes.

According to a report published in Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, researchers from the manufacturer Given Imaging, the Israelite Hospital in Hamburg, Royal Imperial College in London and Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering in Sankt Ingbert, have managed to develop a magnetic system to control the camera. According to Dr Frank Volke, leader of the research team, “We have developed a magnetic device roughly the size of a bar of chocolate. The doctor can hold it in his hand during the examination and move it up and down the patient’s body. The camera inside follows this motion precisely.” In other word, the doctor can take good quality images at leisure that will help in better diagnosis.

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