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UPMC First in State to Offer “Wireless Endoscopy” for Small Bowel Disorders

PITTSBURGH, December 3, 2001 — University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) gastroenterologists are the first in the state to offer the world’s first capsule endoscopy system, in which patients swallow a pill-size camera that transmits images of the digestive tract that can be read on a computer.

“This pill allows us to see the entire length of the small bowel, which traditional endoscopic procedures were unable to do,” said Adam Slivka, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and chief of endoscopy, division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “This will help patients who have undergone endoscopy with inconclusive findings.”

The Given Diagnostic Imaging System is approved for use in patients with undiagnosed occult gastrointestinal bleeding. The capsule system helps the physician localize sources of bleeding that are invisible to diagnostic radiologic studies and inaccessible to standard endoscopy.

In the procedure, the patient swallows a capsule that contains a miniature color video camera, a light source, a miniature transmitter, batteries and an antenna. The capsule, which is the size of a large vitamin, passes through the digestive tract, where it takes video pictures of the small intestine and transmits them through radio frequency to a recorder attached to a belt worn by the patient.

The capsule passes through the body in approximately eight hours. The recorder is then returned to the physician who downloads the pictures into a computer. The computer compiles the images, allowing the physician to view the capsule’s progress through the small intestine. The system also transmits information that allows the physician to determine the location of the pill at a given time.

“This pill currently has limited uses, but has great potential,” said Dr. Slivka, who is also the medical director of the GI Lab at UPMC Presbyterian. “It will be interesting to see how this grows into other uses in the field.”

For more information on the Given Diagnostic Imaging System, visit their website at http://www.givenimaging.com.

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