A FUTURISTIC pill that has revolutionised the way doctors look inside our bodies is now available at the Royal Bolton Hospital.
The “Pillcam” is a tiny camera that patients swallow when doctors need to see the small bowel.
Unlike the oesophagus, stomach and large bowel, the small bowel is not accessible with an endoscope — a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end.
Not only is the small bowel in the middle of the digestive system, it is also between two and eight metres long — making it even more difficult for medical staff to examine.
Dr Salil Singh, a consultant gastroenterologist who introduced capsule endoscopy to the Royal Bolton in March, said: “There is a huge amount we are not able to see with a usual endoscopy.
“Capsule endoscopy has been around for about seven years but before now Bolton patients have had to travel to Wythenshawe to have it done. Now they have it on their doorstep.
“Most people find it fascinating. This really was science fiction 20 years ago but now it’s a reality.”
Once the patient has swallowed the PillCam — which are used only once — it travels all the way through the body taking up to 18 photographs per second.
All the patient has to do is wear a belt which receives and stores all the images.
The flashing LED light on the camera shows up any abnormalities on the surface of the intestine.
It can help identify conditions such as coeliac disease and Crohn’s Disease.
Minesh Pankhania, is a patient at the Royal Bolton Hospital and had to have capsule endoscopy after suffering with suspected anaemia.
Mr Pankhania, aged 25, from Daubhill, said: “It was strange to think that I had a little camera travelling all the way through my body. I didn’t feel a thing and it was all over in about two hours.
“Like with any treatment, it was good to know I didn’t have anything seriously wrong. It plays on your mind when you think something is wrong.”
The capsule endoscopy, which costs about £500 to carry out, confirmed Mr Pankhania had anaemia but nothing more serious.
Brenda Dalton, a nurse endoscopist at the Royal Bolton, added: “You can tell patients find it a fascinating experience.
“This equipment enables to look at parts of the anatomy we are not able to access very easily.”