According to the New York University Langone Medical Center, an incomplete colonoscopy may occur in up to 5-10 percent of cases, which represents about 750,000 people per year. Incomplete colonoscopies can be attributed to patient discomfort, adhesions, hernias, or a colon with many twists.
However, a new product may allow physicians to spot and diagnose colon cancer better than ever before.
PillCam COLON is a camera within a pill that, when swallowed by a patient, takes hundreds of thousands of images of the digestive tract. The camera can take up to 35 pictures per second.
In February 2014, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of PillCam COLON for people who have undergone incomplete colonoscopies. In preparation for the procedure, the patient will drink only clear liquids the day before swallowing the pill, take half of a laxative the night before, and take the other half before swallowing the pill.
The patient then comes into the hospital and puts on a sensor belt that records the data taken by the camera pill. After the patient swallows the pill, it travels down the esophagus, through the stomach, in and out of the small intestine until it makes its way through the colon while the patient goes about his or her day normally.
Once the pill passes, the patient comes back into the hospital where the doctor retrieves the data and analyzes hundreds of images.
The pill, priced at $650 and not covered by insurance, is currently only offered in 10 hospitals nationwide.
Other News From Around the Web
- Stanford University researchers are are working on ways to make precancerous and cancerous lesions on the colon more visible during screenings, which would lead to better, earlier detection of colon cancer.
- The Fuse endoscope, which touts a three-camera tip, greatly improves the accuracy of colonoscopy exams, thereby reducing the number of potentially precancerous polyps missed by standard, forward-viewing endoscopes.
- Here's an interesting article on the ties between behavioral economics and health care, which may help health care providers address the issues that lead people away from colon cancer screening.
- A recent study in the UK demonstrates that of all patients who undergo preliminary colon cancer screening, a third of them ignored their subsequent screening invitation, putting their health at risk.