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It sounds like something from a science fiction novel—swallowing a pill that has tiny cameras in it to diagnose diseases of the esophagus. But thanks to advancements in technology it has become reality.
The desire to explore the relatively inaccessible area of the esophagus and small intestine led to the development of an ingestible miniature camera. Video capsule endoscopy provides visualization of the esophagus and GI tract by transmitting images wirelessly from a disposable capsule to a data recorder worn by the patient.
Given Imaging Ltd. (Yoqneam, Israel) manufactures the PillCam SB, which evaluates the small intestine and the PillCam ESO for the esophagus. Another capsule system has been release by Olympus in Europe and is nearing clearance and release in the United States.
About the size of a large vitamin pill, these tiny imaging systems eliminate the need for costly, invasive procedures used to diagnose and evaluate diseases of the esophagus, small intestine and GI tract.
After Micron Technology, Inc. (Boise, Idaho) acquired Photobyte, a custom imaging product company, they disbanded most of the projects that had been in the pipeline except for a solid few. One project that they maintained was the disposable capsule project from Given Imaging. “Micron looked at the market segments and opportunities and we had the tiger by the tail with this one,” said Paul Gallagher, director of market development for Micron. “The simplicity of architecture that Given had developed and the simplicity of the usage models for the doctors, which translated also in significantly reduced price points for the insurance company made it a winner all around.”