According to the new study, Japanese researchers went in the other way, so to speak.
They first injected water into the anus, and then inserted the pill camera. Controlling the device by remote control, they obtained images using a real-time monitoring system.
The capsule moved smoothly through the colon and could be removed from the anus easily and safely, according to the study.
"This trial demonstrates the feasibility to control and maneuver the capsule in the colon of a human who is awake," study author Dr. Takanori Kuramoto, said in a Digestive Disease Week news release. "Our study is the first trial of an actively propelled video capsule in the human colon, and we expect it will lead to the development of a commercial system to propel the capsule in a way that lets doctors visualize the entire gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to anus."
The findings were presented Sunday at Digestive Disease Week in Chicago.
Brooks called the findings a "proof of principle," meaning that researchers have shown using camera capsules to scan the colon is possible. But far more research needs to be done before the devices should actually be put to use, including determining that they work as well as current screening, such as colonoscopy.
"The next step is determining whether or not it can give an accurate assessment of what is going on in the colon," Brooks said.
Even if it can, capsule camera will never replace colonoscopies, he said. When physicians detect abnormalities such as polyps that can develop into cancer during a colonoscopy, they'll often remove the polyps right then and there.
If a capsule detects polyps, the patient is going to have to undergo a colonoscopy afterward to get the polyps treated and biopsied.
"You can't do that through a capsule," he said.
Dr. Joel Brill, chief medical officer for the American Gastroenter
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