The FDA has approved a pill-sized, digestible camera intended for use as an alternative to invasive colonoscopies. PillCam, as it is so imaginatively named, is mostly targeted toward patients who are unable to have a complete colonoscopy; it can reach places an endoscope may not be able to.
The tiny device has a camera on each end and traverses the human digestive system in roughly eight hours, snaps high-speed photographs of the intestines, and then transmits those images to a device worn by the patient.
Given Imaging, the Israeli company that produces the PillCam, also sells pill-sized, digestible cameras for esophageal and small bowel evaluation. The idea behind PillCamm and products like it is to offer a more comfortable experience for patients who might be averse to the very idea of an endoscope.
According to Given, incomplete colonoscopies occur in some 750,000 patients in the U.S. every year. While it’s not meant to replace traditional colonoscopies, the camera's price tag of $500 is significantly cheaper than invasive endoscopic procedures, which can cost thousands.
The FDA’s approval adds the U.S. to a list of more than 80 other countries currently using the device.