Hospital's new pill is easy to swallow

NEARLY 40 years ago, filmgoers were amazed by the tale of The Fantastic Voyage, a journey through the human body in a tiny capsule.Now, a pioneering new service at Ipswich Hospital is bringing back memories of the 1966 film, and is promising to do battle against bowel disease.

By Jonathan Barnes

NEARLY 40 years ago, filmgoers were amazed by the tale of The Fantastic Voyage, a journey through the human body in a tiny capsule.

Now, a pioneering new service at Ipswich Hospital is bringing back memories of the 1966 film, and is promising to do battle against bowel disease.

The movie, starring Raquel Welch and Donald Pleasance, featured people being shrunk so they could fit inside a capsule and be released into the body's circulatory system.


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No-one needs to be shrunk for the new capsule endoscopy service however, as a tiny camera fitted inside the capsule can provide excellent images from inside the body after it has been swallowed.

Dr Yin Miao, a consultant at Ipswich Hospital, said: “Once a patient has swallowed the small capsule, which is fitted with a camera and light, it runs around the small bowel and takes pictures which are transmitted to sensors on the body and relayed to a recorder which then gets downloaded on to a computer for analysis.

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“The video, which gets generated, allows excellent views of 15ft of small bowel, which we have never been able to see before.

“This will be of immense benefit to us as we will be able to diagnose what is happening to people who suffer with bowel symptoms such as obscure bleeding in the digestive system.”

There are only 27 centres in the country able to offer capsule endoscopy and the £27,000 service has recently been introduced at the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust.

It has been paid for by the Digestive Diseases Foundation, together with the Bloomfield family, whose donation of £3,000 has meant a “tester” biodegradable capsule and monitoring machine is available for patients.

A member of the Bloomfield family is a patient of Dr Miao's.

Dr Miao added: “Capsule endoscopy has been used since 2000 and it will benefit more than 50% of patients who only have symptoms and not a diagnosis.

“It is a non invasive, painless procedure which gives us high quality images of the entire small bowel. Imaging is possible even in the very frail patient.

“I am delighted that thanks to the generosity of the Digestive Diseases Foundation and the Bloomfield family, we are able to offer capsule endoscopy at our hospital.”

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