Inner Space: Tiny cameras inside pills to help treat Scottish bowel cancer patients

Scottish bowel cancer patients are going to be fed pills with tiny cameras inside as an alternative to intrusive examinations.

The capsule, which contains two small cameras, is taken orally

Clinicians in NHS Tayside are to examine patients using a tiny capsule contains two tiny cameras inside.

Once swallowed, the cameras in the capsuletake pictures of the lining of the bowel to look for any problems or signs of disease. This test can be used instead of a colonoscopy

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Scotland’s Colon Capsule Endoscopy Service (SCOTCAP) clinics will help detect bowel cancer earlier and cut waiting times and will be an alternative to colonoscopies. It will also do away with the need for patients from rural areas to tgravel to hospitals, with results capabale of being uploaded directly from smaller clinics.

The cameras take photos as the capsule works its way through the digestive system

Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer globally and has a very high incidence in Scotland. Around 70,000 people undergo colonoscopy treatment in Scotland each year. The roll-out of the Scotland’s Colon Capsule Endoscopy Service (SCOTCAP) across Scotland has been accelerated in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will help Health Boards tackle the backlog of patients, reduce waiting times and ensuring patients get either relief or a vital diagnosis. Scottish Government is backing the programme, which uses Colon Capsule Endoscopy (CCE) technology to deliver clinical benefits, streamline service delivery and positively transform patient experience.

NHS Tayside are hosting their Colon Capsule Endoscopy clinics at Perth Royal Infirmary and Royal Victoria Hospital.

Dr Craig Mowat, Consultant Gastroenterologist with NHS Tayside and Senior Lecturer in Gastroenterology with University of Dundee, highlighted the three key benefits of the new procedure.

He said: “The Colon Capsule is a pill-sized camera which has a bright light and two cameras which beam images to a recorder worn by the patient. It films the inside of the lower intestine to determine whether there are any abnormalities.”

“The Colon Capsule makes the procedure non-invasive, painless and the patient does not need to be sedated.”

The new approach was jointly developed between the public sector and Industry through an Innovation Partnership and approved following the largest evaluation in the UK to date. That involved nearly 450 patients across three Health Boards and has been championed by clinical lead Professor Angus Watson of NHS Highland.

In the coming months the new service will progressively be made available to patients in throughout Scotland.”