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    MAY 5, 2005
 
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Getting the inside story on GI disorders

A new pill uses radio transmitters to monitor the GI tract from the inside

smartpill
Professor of medicine Henry Parkman, director of the Gastroenterology Motility Laboratory at Temple University Hospital, is currently testing an ingestible pill-sized capsule and portable data receiver that will aid in the diagnosis and management of GI motility disorders such as gastroparesis and dyspepsia. Temple is one of seven sites across the nation testing the new device, the first of its kind.

Providing patients with a timely, adequate diagnosis has just gotten a little easier for gastroenterologists, thanks to a new pill-sized device.

Henry Parkman, professor of medicine in the School of Medicine and director of the Gastroenterology Motility Laboratory at Temple University Hospital, is currently testing the SmartPill ACT-I Capsule and SmartPill GI Monitoring System, new technology that will aid in the diagnosis and management of GI motility disorders such as gastroparesis and dyspepsia.

Temple is one of seven sites across the nation testing the new device.

The technology, which consists of an ingestible pill-sized capsule and portable data receiver, is the first of its kind. Developed by the New York-based SmartPill Corp., the technology will provide gastroenterologists with something that a scope won’t — measurements from within the entire GI tract.

“A scope is often the fastest way to diagnose a gastrointestinal disorder; however, it is limited to the upper GI tract,” Parkman explained. “This means that patients with motility disorders often have to undergo extensive studies before a diagnosis can be made. These studies often take most of a day and may require an overnight stay in the hospital.

“Through the use of the SmartPill technology we hope to make more timely, accurate diagnoses that require a minimal time commitment on the patient’s part,” he continued.

The process, Parkman said, is quite simple.

“The patient comes in for a normal office visit and ingests the SmartPill Capsule. This capsule is about the size of a large vitamin pill and contains two radio transmitters. As the capsule travels through the GI tract the transmitters capture biomedical data that includes gastrointestinal peristaltic pressure, pH levels, temperature and transit time. This data is sent to the Monitoring System and within a day or two the capsule safely passes out of the patient.”

According to Parkman, the patient returns to the hospital the next day so that the data can be collected — a process that takes 10 to 30 minutes. The physician can analyze the data in minutes, enabling a diagnosis within days following the exam.


“When the SmartPill technology becomes available at the end of this year, it will have a significant impact on gastroenterology,” Parkman said. “Having the capability to gather this much information in such a short period of time will allow us [gastroenterologists] to do our job better and allow our patients to live their lives more fully.”

- By Gwendolyn Coverdale

GI motility disorders
• GI motility disorders affect millions of males and females of all ages each year.

• Symptoms of GI disorders include heartburn, constipation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. They can cause discomfort ranging from inconvenience to deep personal distress. For those with severe symptoms, the disorders can be debilitating.

• The costs of GI diseases, including medical treatments and lost productivity, run to billions of dollars each year.

Source: International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

 

 

 


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