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New era for endoscopy as camera pill introduced in North Wales hospitals

State of the art technology to diagnose abnormalities in the small bowel is now available for patients in North Wales.

Capsule endoscopy is ideal for investigating obscure Gastrointestinal bleeding (GI) in patients and those who may have inflammation in the bowel from conditions such as Crohn’s disease.

The capsule is swallowed by the patient, who is then free to go back to work or home. On its journey through the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine it takes around 100,000 images, which are then transmitted to a data recorder on a belt.

Eight hours after swallowing the pill, the patient returns to the Endoscopy Department where the belt is removed and the images downloaded and reviewed by a clinical endoscopist. The pill containing the camera is disposable and is simply flushed away by the patient.

Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s Endoscopy department, who began offering the service towards the end of 2019, are already seeing the benefits of the new service.

Mandy Collins, Lead Nurse Endoscopist, said: “The capsule is mostly used to investigate the small bowel to rule out and to investigate obscure Gastrointestinal bleeding (GI) in patients with iron deficiency anaemia and other GI symptoms when an endoscopy and colonoscopy has not identified any obvious cause.

“It is also used to investigate and assess patients who have Crohn’s disease to assist in determining if there is a need for further treatment.

“The results we’ve had so far from using Capsule Endoscopy are very promising, with excellent feedback from our patients.

“It is a non-invasive procedure and allows patients to continue with their daily routine.”

Providing the service in North Wales allows patients to access the procedure closer to their homes, as up until recently they were referred to the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

Consultant Gastroenterologist, Dr Jonathan Sutton, at Ysbyty Gwynedd, who is looking forward to starting this service soon at Ysbyty Gwynedd, said: “The primary benefit of the small bowel endoscope is its ability to provide physicians with complete and direct visualisation for evaluation of the small bowel. This provides us with a greater ability to detect vascular abnormalities that cause GI bleeding and other symptoms.

“It also allows us to provide patients with a minimally invasive procedure that is sedation-free.

“The patient can ingest the pill, and go about their normal, daily routine while receiving a full examination of the small bowel, and simply return the equipment at the end of the day.

“We are really pleased we can soon offer this service at Ysbyty Gwynedd, it will provide an essential gastrointestinal service to our patients locally without having to travel to another hospital.”