Published on October 27, 2009 at 5:21 AM
The use of capsule endoscopy has solved a long-term problem for doctors: visualizing the midsection of the small intestine, which can measure 20 feet in length. Standard endoscopy, done through the mouth or the rectum, can't penetrate deeply enough and requires anesthesia. Now, CE is used to visualize the entire small intestine. Most commonly, it is used to find the source of unexplained bleeding. The procedure is also used to detect the causes of anemia, abdominal pain and certain intestinal diseases.
Because cell phones, microwave ovens and other wireless appliances have affected heart devices, physicians were concerned that the radiofrequencies used in CE may potentially interfere with the radiofrequency of heart devices. But in the study, the only research complication occurred when a capsule's receiver stopped working for reasons unrelated to a heart device, according to Dr. Harris, a Mayo gastroenterologist and first author on this study.
"There were no problems with the devices interacting," says Dr. Harris. "The data is now out there. We are coming to the point where we know this is a relatively safe procedure. She was scheduled to report on the project Monday, Oct. 26, at a meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in San Diego.
Affirming the procedure's safety when heart devices are present mainly benefits elderly patients, who are the most prone to have implanted devices (primarily pacemakers) and to experience unexplained intestinal bleeding from illnesses or blood-thinning medications.
Mayo doctors plan to continue using capsule technology on patients with implants. But even with the positive results of the study, they will continue to do CE as an inpatient procedure.
"If it were not contraindicated by the FDA, we would do it as outpatient, and it would reduce costs, just as safely," says Dr. Leighton.
Source: Mayo Clinic