Colonoscopy Fun: FDA Approves Tiny Camera That Travels Your Digestive Tract Taking Selfies

pillcamThe dread and utter feeling of helplessness that one gets before going in for a colonoscopy is normal. What’s not normal is being excited for the procedure. Well, that could all change now that the Food and Drug Administration approved a tiny, ingestible camera to help screen patients who have trouble with the traditional four-foot long, flexible tube used in colonoscopies.

Last week, the FDA approved Given Imaging’s PillCam COLON for patients who have experienced an incomplete colonoscopy due to anatomy issues, previous surgery, or other colon diseases. Incomplete colonoscopies occur in approximately 750,000 patients each year in the United States, The Associated Press reports.

The device uses a battery-powered camera to take high-speed photos while it takes a leisurely ten-hour ride through a patient’s intestinal tract. The small device is equipped with two miniature color video cameras and an LED light source.

Given first introduced and received FDA approval for a similar pill in 2001, but company studies found the images were no as clear as those from in-office procedures.

The PillCam, which was previously approved in 80 other countries, costs about $500. The going rate for a traditional colonoscopy is about $4,000.

Given Imaging, headquartered in Israel, produces other medical devices including pillcams to screen the small intestine and esophagus.

FDA Approves Pill Camera To Screen Colons [The Associated Press]

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  1. Pacer says:

    I understand that the TSA bought 50,000 of these.

  2. SingleMaltGeek says:

    “[T]he FDA approved Given Imaging’s PillCam COLON for patients who have experienced an incomplete colonoscopy due to anatomy issues, previous surgery, or other colon diseases.”

    Um…how about approving it for everyone who gets a colonoscopy?!?

    Also, don’t forget that retail equipment costs, even if the item is unrecoverable/disposable, are not really comparable to the cost for reusable equipment operation and maintenance. The second figure below includes the labor cost of having a doctor interpret the images, which the PillCam’s equipment cost leaves out, even though it is still necessary.

    “The PillCam, which was previously approved in 80 other countries, costs about $500. The going rate for a traditional colonoscopy is about $4,000.”

  3. GoldHillDave says:

    I’ve had a couple of colonoscopies. As Dave Barry pointed out in his hilarious, inimitable fashion (http://www.miamiherald.com/2009/02/11/427603/dave-barry-a-journey-into-my-colon.html), the procedure itself is nothing, as you’re unconscious. It’s the prep that is so miserable, what with drinking quarts of unpleasant stuff till it comes through clear. I would expect that for these PillCams to work, the patient will have to undergo the same miserable prep – if the colon is full of you know what, the cam won’t be able to see anything.

  4. APK1080 says:

    Seriously though how cool is it that we can make a device with TWO video cameras, a light, storage memory, and power small enough to swallow?